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Woman who caused fatal accident receives five-year sentence

Driving a car is dangerous because of speed. It is the basic physics of mass times acceleration squared that equals force. And when a vehicle is moving at average highway speeds, there is a great deal of potential force present. At 55 mph, a car or truck is traveling approximately 88 feet per second. When a vehicle suddenly stops, all that force is released, leaving sometimes-horrific results in a car accident.

You can spend so much time in your car that you often forget just what would happen if you had to stand on your brakes to avoid a car, truck, pedestrian or a child on a bicycle. It is easy to become distracted in a car, with your cell phone or the radio, iPod, newspaper, lunch, coffee, soda, makeup and a near infinite list of items. Your familiarity with the car and often the route can lull you into a trance-like behavior, where you are only incidentally aware that you are driving a vehicle.

Mindfulness is important for driving. We need to be mindful of the damage our vehicle and do and understand the potential consequences of foolish or distracted behavior. Last year, a woman in Beaumont, Texas, travelling near a truck, suffered a rock striking her car and chipping her windshield.

She became angry, pulled in front of the truck and slammed on her brakes. The truck, too, stopped. The car following the truck, hit the rear end of the truck, and the crash killed the driver and injured the passenger.

This week, she was sentenced to two concurrent five-year sentences after a plea bargain to charges for aggravated assault. She could have potentially been sentenced to 20 years in prison. While she told the court she was very sorry, her actions highlight how a moment's anger at a rock chip resulted in the death of a man.

Source: 12Newsnow.com, "Port Arthur woman sentenced for fatal accident: 'I'm very sorry for everything'," March 18, 2013

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