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Pickup Truck Bus Crash Texting Warning Message

Circulating social media message featuring a photograph depicting a pickup truck crumpled between a large truck and a bus claims that the young driver of the pickup was texting just prior to the fatal accident.

Hand of a teen texting while driving

© Robert Crum

Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are true and the photograph is genuine. The accident occurred in August 2010 on an interstate highway in Missouri. The 19-year-old driver of the pickup was killed, as was a student on one of the buses. Subsequent investigations revealed that the pickup driver was indeed texting just before the accident.

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You see that crumpled mess of gray steel and wheels under that bus and on the back of the big truck? That WAS a pickup truck! The driver of that pickup truck was a 19 year old male, who had received and sent 11 text messages in the 11 minutes prior to this crash. He rearended the big truck tractor at 55 MPH, causing his pickup to go up onto the back of the big truck tractor, the school bus rearended both of them, running up and over the pickup truck, and a second school bus that you can't see in the picture, rearended the school bus you see here. In all, the young man driving the pickup WHILE TEXTING, DIED, and one student on one of the busses died. Is TEXTING WHILE DRIVING REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?

Pickup Bus Crash

Detailed Analysis

This widely circulated social media message describes a fatal traffic accident in which a pickup truck was crushed between a tractor truck and a bus. The message features a photograph depicting the accident. It claims that the 19-year-old driver of the pickup was texting just prior to the crash. The message uses the accident as an example of the dangers of texting while driving.

The claims in the message are true and the photograph is genuine. A December 2011 report on explains the circumstances of the accident:
A 19-year-old driver was texting just before his pickup truck, two school buses and a tractor truck collided in a deadly pileup on an interstate highway in Missouri last year, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

Two people -- the pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the buses -- were killed and 38 others were injured in the Aug. 5, 2010 accident on the interstate highway near Gray Summit, Mo. Nearly 50 students, mostly members of a high school band from St. James, Mo., were on the buses heading to the Six Flags St. Louis amusement park.

The chain of rear-end collisions began when the pickup truck rammed the back of the tractor truck, the board said. The pickup was then rear-ended by a school bus, which was in turn struck by the second bus.

And a December 2011 article on notes:
States should ban all driver use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies, the National Transportation Board said Tuesday.

The recommendation, unanimously agreed to by the five-member board, applies to both hands-free and handheld phones and significantly exceeds any existing state laws restricting texting and cellphone use behind the wheel.

The board made the recommendation in connection with a deadly four-vehicle pileup in Missouri last year. The board said the initial collision in the accident near Gray Summit, Mo., was caused by the inattention of a 19-year-old-pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the crash.
Thus, the dangers outlined in the message are certainly worth heeding for all drivers. Texting or making or receiving mobile phone calls while driving is certainly dangerous. In fact, the practice has already been banned in a number of jurisdictions around the world and can result in hefty fines and demerit points.

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Last updated: September 9, 2013
First published: September 9, 2013
Research: David M. White, Brett M. Christensen
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

Driver, 19, was texting before horrific Missouri traffic pileup
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Mobile phone use & distraction while driving
Using any mobile phone when driving is dangerous
Cellphone and texting laws
Driver distractions