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Man shares story of deadly texting-while-driving accident

By Jed Boal | Posted - Oct. 20, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.


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KAYSVILLE -- Despite recent declines in highway fatalities, distracted and drunken drivers still threaten the lives of others. One young Utah driver, who knows the cost of distracted driving, spends his time sharing a critical message with teens.

Reggie Shaw has an important story to tell. In fact, the courts ordered him to share his story as part of his community service. Four years ago, Shaw was texting and driving when he clipped a car and killed two men.

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Wednesday he told his story at Davis High School in Kaysville as part of a presentation that included a very realistic reenactment of a crash, complete with actors, theatrics and fake blood.

"You do not want to see this in real life, I promise you," he told the students.

Shaw never meant to hurt anyone, but his texting while driving led to the deaths of two men in Cache County. Now, he is the preeminent example in Utah of why no one should ever text while driving.

"One bad act behind the wheel makes this real," Shaw said, referring to the mock crash. "On your way home today, on your way to lunch. It can happen any time."


9 percent of arrestees were under the legal drinking age of 21. DUI drivers ages 25 through 36 accounted for nearly 39 percent of all arrests. -8th Annual DUI report to the Utah Legislature

Shaw served a 30-day jail sentence, and at first visited schools as part of his sentence. Now he talks to students because he believes it's important for the students and for himself.

Shaw said, "I have to live every single day knowing that I took two families' husbands away from them."

Teen Driver Statistics
Teen drivers were 2.5 times more likely to have a contributing factor in a fatal crash than drivers of other ages. 42 teenage drivers were involved in crashes where a death occurred. Contributing factors included:
  • 17 speeding
  • 14 failed to keep in proper lane
  • 12 ran off the road
  • 6 failed to yield right of way
  • 6 overcorrected
  • 5 disregarded traffic signal/sign
  • 5 drivers distracted [2 texting, 2 distracted by passenger, 1 distracted by scenery]
  • 4 during inclement weather
  • 4 drivers fatigue/asleep
  • 4 drivers impaired
  • 3 reckless/aggressive driving
  • 3 wrong side/wrong way
  • 2 followed too closely
  • 1 improper lane change
  • 1 improper passing

--Source: Zero Fatalities

Last year, 35 teens died on Utah roads. The message today caught the students' attention.

Student Nicholas Mason said, "I can't imagine what it would be like to be in that situation where your friend's dead on the hood of a car."

Utah's ban on texting while driving can lead to serious jail time.

"Simple things that you take for granted while driving can cause serious accidents, injury, or even death," said Davis County Sheriff Bud E. Cox.

"The time you're saving, or whatever you have to say (by sending a text while driving), isn't worth killing someone," said Mason.


35 teens lost their lives on Utah roads in 2009. -Zero Fatalities

Shaw hopes the students will remember a dangerous crash can happen any time and change lives forever.

"I can never give back the two lives that I took, and I owe it for the rest of my life to try to save as many people as possible, and hopefully, I'm doing that," Shaw said.

Shaw makes no excuses and says the fatal crash did not have to happen, but he also wishes he had been warned about the dangers when he was in high school.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

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