Police: Teen driver dies after being distracted

The accident happened on Louetta and Haude in north Harris County Wednesday night.

July 21, 2011 2:51:20 PM PDT
A young driver on his way home after a night out with friends died after deputies say he swerved into oncoming traffic. But it wasn't because of drugs or alcohol. Authorities say he was simply distracted. Authorities say it was a split second decision that had deadly consequences. According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Justin Martinez, 18, was driving a black Saturn on Louetta near Haude while talking to a friend in the car next to him, as well as talking on his cell phone. Deputies say the teen was distracted and drove into oncoming traffic.

Authorities say Martinez's car was struck by another driver in a white Mitsubishi and he died at the scene.

"The fact that the driver of the Saturn was not only distracted by the vehicle next to him, he was also distracted by having a cell phone conversation while he was driving down the road," said Sgt. S. Wolverton with the Harris County Sheriff's Office. "So many distractions going on that he obviously wasn't paying attention to the traffic in front of him."

How to avoid being a distracted driver is on the curriculum at one Houston area driving school. Teen student drivers are told there's only one safe place for the cell phone and other electronic devices while driving.

"Put it in the trunk, lock it up," advised Brandon Coleman of Safeway Driving. "What's easier to do -- put your phone in the trunk or bury a family member?"

It's a harsh lesson students say they will remember.

"I never want to be responsible for causing a terrible crash by being a distracted driver," said student driver Colin Legge. "It does make an impression on me."

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