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11/13/2008
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Texting While Driving Fatality Ends In Jail Term

A Massachusetts driver charged with killing a man while texting on his cell phone has been sentenced to 2-1/2 years in jail in a precedent-setting case.

A Massachusetts driver charged with killing a man while texting on his cell phone has been sentenced to 2-1/2 years in jail in a precedent-setting case.

Massachusetts does not ban the use of cell phones while driving, but the driver, 32-year-old Craig Bigos, pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide and leaving the scene of an accident with death resulting, according to media reports Thursday. The accident occurred on a night last January when 13-year-old Earman Machado was riding his bike before the crash.

Bigos told police he didn't see Machado, who was biking along a dark street in Taunton.

The case focused attention on legislative attempts in Massachusetts to ban cell phone use by drivers. Legislation banning the use of cell phones by drivers passed the Massachusetts House recently, but the effort failed in the state Senate.

Joseph F. Wagner, a state representative, who is co-chairman of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation, has said he plans to reintroduce the legislation in the next session of the Massachusetts legislature.

States have increasingly been passing legislation that bans texting while driving on cell phones, although most of the states with bans permit hands-free cell phone use. A recent train wreck in California in which at least 22 persons were killed has fueled interest in bans. The driver of the train had sent a text message 22 seconds before the crash.

A recent study by a University of Utah researcher found that cell phone usage on highways tends to cause traffic jams, while other studies by the same Utah researcher show that teenagers talking on cell phones have reflexes that are as slow as the reflexes of senior citizens.

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