New Jersey.com reports that a woman is facing a charge of vehicular manslaughter in connection with a fatal accident that occurred just moments after she allegedly read a text message.
On the morning of September 16th, 2016, Alexandra Mansonet was driving south on Laurel Avenue in Hazlet. At about 8:20 a.m., her sister-in-law sent her a text message reading, “Cuban, American or Mexican?”
Sixty seconds after the text message was received, the Mercedes Mansonet was driving plowed into the rear of a red Toyota Corolla which had stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the street. The impact propelled the Toyota forward, where it struck 39-year-old Yuwen Wang.
Wang was taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries six days later.
Last Wednesday, Mansonet appeared in court facing charges of vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors allege that she was distracted by the text message and did not apply her brakes in time to stop.
Mansonet did not reply to the text message, but records indicate that she had read it. Prosecutors say that she was looking at the phone and not the roadway when the accident occurred.
Mansonet’s attorney argued that she was not looking at her cell phone. He states that she was looking for the rear window defrost button. He stated that she had read the text message a full sixty seconds prior to the accident.
If convicted, Mansonet faces up to 10 years in prison.
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There’s no denying that cell phones have caused an issue with distracted driving. In 2001, New York became the first state to outlaw hand-held cell phone use while driving. A few years later, in 2009, further legislation was enacted that prohibited texting while driving, though it was a secondary offense.
In 2011, Governor Cuomo signed legislation making texting while driving a primary offense, meaning that officers could pull drivers over upon witnessing them in the act of texting while driving. By 2013, the number of points applied to a driver’s license for texting while driving was raised to 5.