Celebrity Surgeon’s Fatal Crash Puts Spotlight on Distracted Driving

It was, perhaps, inevitable that distracted driving would one day be linked to the death of someone famous. Thus have celebrity watchers this week been obsessed with the Southern California car accident that claimed the life of Dr. Frank Ryan, a cosmetic surgeon well-known for operating on well-known people.

The initial reports of Ryan’s death were relatively straightforward: “The California Highway Patrol says Ryan’s 1995 Jeep Wrangler went off the side of Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu and landed on its roof Monday afternoon,” the Associated Press reported. It did not take long, however, for the nature of the story to change. Soon many media outlets were noting that California authorities are considering whether the car crash “was a result of distracted driving from texting and tweeting at the wheel,” according to a report by CBS News. According to CBS, Ryan “was sending pictures and updates to his twitter page” only “moments” before the fatal car accident.

As it is here in Oregon, texting while driving is illegal in California. Does it take the death of someone (moderately) famous to force home the message that texting while driving – even in places where it is legal (and, to repeat, that does not include either California or Oregon) is among the more insanely dangerous things one can do while also trying to operate a speeding car?

Tragedies like these are also a reminder of one of the main reasons why distracted driving laws, such as Oregon’s, exist in the first place. This accident, if indeed it was the result of distracted driving, involved only a single vehicle, but that fact is mainly a matter of luck. Oregon distracted drivers endanger everyone else on the road to almost the same extent that they endanger themselves. That is why victims of accidents involving an Oregon distracted driver are well-advised to make prompt contact with a Portland distracted driving attorney, who can help obtain the justice their injuries demand.

Part of the problem is that bans on Oregon texting and driving are relatively easy to flaunt, at least until something goes wrong while one is behind the wheel. In an ideal world, the social stigma of violating the Oregon distracted laws would, like that associated with drinking and driving, be almost as much of a deterrent to destructive behavior as the legal sanctions themselves. If the reports about Ryan’s death prove to be true, it will be a reminder of how far we still have to go before that becomes a reality.

CBS News: Did Dr. Frank Ryan die because he was tweeting?

AP: Celebrity surgeon Frank Ryan killed in car crash