Sean Morrow
August 08, 2013 9:00 am

The cause of the train accident that ended 79 lives in Spain last week has been traced to the train driver’s abject negligence. Francisco Jose Garzon de Amo was “simultaneously answering a call … and reading a document,” when the train careened off the track.

de Amo, who reportedly said ““I was going at 190 km/h! I hope no one died because it will weigh on my conscience,” (quick aside – if you’re worried about how something will “weigh on your conscience” in a situation like this, doesn’t that mean you don’t HAVE a conscience? Like if you say “If this happens I’ll feel bad,” then you’re only concerned with your feeling bad, not the suffering you inflict, right?) He is not the first person to cause disaster with distracted driving.

When I was like, 14ish (so ~2007) I made a short commercial about the dangers of talking on your cell phone while you drove; two toy cars collided and burst into flames. Sure, it was just an excuse to set toy cars on fire, but I won an ostensibly meaningless award for “Best PSA” from the local TV station! And here I am again promoting non-distracted driving. Before de Amo, these distracted driving disasters shocked people all over:

Costa Concordia

When this cruise ship crashed in Tuscany its captain had been pulling close to land to do a “near-shore salute” to people on the coast. As he pulled close, the captain “was on the telephone with retired Captain Mario Palombo, and thereby distracted.”

The ship crashed, and 32 people were killed.

Chatsworth train collision

Two trains collided head-on in the Chatsworth district of LA in 2008; 25 people were killed.

A train is pretty easy to drive, it’s on tracks, right? How could you crash? “The NTSB placed the last text message sent by the engineer at 22 seconds before impact.” OK, I’m being flippant, driving a train is probably pretty difficult and stressful work, and that’s why it’s drivers shouldn’t text.

Aaron Deveau and Stephanie Kanoff

Not all tragic texting accidents are a result of large vehicles being handled distractedly.

Deveau and Kanoff are both ruthless killers who were only driving cars when they ended the lives of their victims.

Deveau was the first person to ever be sentenced to motor vehicle homicide by texting, and Kanoff was sentenced a few months later. Both were sentenced to a two-year (only two-years, even though they both at one point thought “I don’t care if I end any lives today”) prison sentence and varying combinations of community service and license suspension. Kanoff is not allowed to have a turned-on cell phone in a car ever again.

Their victims–Kanoff’s was 21 and a senior in college–were sentenced to death.

Not texting and driving is one of those lessons we shouldn’t have to be teaching–like “gay people should be allowed to get married,” or “don’t stand on escalators,”–that still has to be taught because some people are really thick. When you text and drive, you’re basically saying “I don’t value human life, my immediate needs and wants are more important than the entire existences of those around me.”And that’s not just negligent, careless, and reckless, that’s evil.

Even if it is a teenager who “doesn’t know any better,” distracted driving, like drunk driving, is akin to attempted murder (and in the cases above, murder) because you’re willfully wielding a weapon against everyone in your path for only your own weird need to be perpetually plugged-in.

Images via Wikimedia and Shutterstock

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