Last updated: August 14, 2012
First published: August 14, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer
This message which features a photograph of an horrific and obviously fatal car accident scene in which a red Corvette is jammed solidly under a large truck is currently being extensively shared via Facebook and other social media outlets. The message suggests that the accident occurred because the driver was texting on his cell phone and therefore not concentrating. It asks users to share the picture if they are against texting while driving.
The photograph shows a real accident and sadly, the driver indeed died at the scene. However, the accident was not recent and there is no evidence to support the claim that it occurred because the driver was texting on his cell phone. The accident took place back in July, 2005 in Westchester County New York . A July 29, 2005 report in The Record, Bergen County, noted:
FRANKLIN LAKES - A Westchester County man died Thursday afternoon in a crash on Route 287.
Joseph Gianelli, 58 of Irvington, N.Y., was pronounced dead at the scene after his Chevrolet Corvette struck the rear of a tractor-trailer at about 1 p.m., near milepost 65, state police said.
The truck, operated by Clouis Oquinn Jr., 52, of Virginia, was parked on a northbound shoulder when the Corvette plowed into it. Oquinn was not injured, officials said.
The crash was under investigation Thursday evening.
The news article makes no mention of cell phone use as a causative factor. And the message does not provide any credible sources that confirm the claims that cell phone use was involved. Moreover, the photograph has circulated widely in the past with messages that make no mention of texting as a possible cause of the accident. Certainly, texting while driving is very dangerous and has been responsible for serious traffic accidents. In fact, because of its inherent dangers, mobile phone use while driving has now been officially banned in a number of jurisdictions. However, using a photograph of a fatal accident that may not have any connection to texting use at all is inappropriate. The message makes unfair and unsubstantiated assumptions about the cause of the accident. The circulation of the photograph is disrespectful to the deceased driver and, given that the victim is partially visible, could also be very distressing for his family.
Another message featuring long circulated photographs of a motorcycle wedged inside a Volkswagen also make the unsubstantiated claim that the accident was caused by a driver using a cell phone. Raising awareness of the dangers of using cell phones while driving is good. But embellishing such warnings with photographs of fatal accidents that were not caused by cell phone use at all is counterproductive and unethical.
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