Bruce Jenner Crash: What It Teaches About Future Distracted Driving Investigations

The fatal Bruce Jenner accident in which the former Olympian was in a multi-car accident that killed 69-year-old neighbor Kim Howe is still under investigation, but according to Jenner’s camp, one thing is for certain: he was not texting while driving at the time of the accident, and is ready to prove as much by releasing cellphone records to the police.

“The evidence will show that Bruce was not texting at the time of the accident,” Jenner’s publicist, Alan Nierob, said in a statement.

While Jenner hasn’t turned over the records as of this writing — nor has he been asked — it is expected that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials will pursue them in order to see “if distracted driving played a role in the four-vehicle crash on Pacific Coast Highway,” Claims Journal reports.

The news site notes that Jenner was driving a black Cadillac Escalade when he rear-ended “a Lexus sedan that slammed into a Toyota Prius that had slowed down or stopped on the highway,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Philip Brooks.

(The Prius owner was said to be driving on a suspended license, though it isn’t clear how that will factor into the final investigation, or if it will be a factor at all.)

Jenner referred to the accident as “a devastating tragedy” and committed his full cooperation to investigators.

“My heartfelt and deepest sympathies go out to the family and loved ones, and to all of those who were involved or injured in this terrible accident,” Jenner said in a statement Sunday evening. “It is a devastating tragedy I cannot pretend to imagine what this family is going through at this time. I am praying for them.”


More from CJ:

“Jenner passed a field sobriety test and voluntarily submitted a blood sample to determine whether he was intoxicated … The sheriff’s department has custody of all the vehicles and will be inspecting them to ensure they are mechanically sound or whether a defect prevented somebody from stopping in time.

“Investigators could also request search warrants, if necessary. The information gleaned from those records could help inform prosecutors, if they were to consider charges against the drivers involved.

“However, Brooks said it is difficult to determine if a driver was texting at the exact time of a collision. Investigators will look at signs of driver behavior such as multiple texts that span a period of time leading up to, or including, the crash.”

While most accidents of this nature wouldn’t find their way into the national news, this one did on the celebrity of Jenner. But it’s interesting in a way that goes beyond the 65-year-old former track and reality TV star’s celebrity.

It serves as a reminder regarding what investigators are doing to dig in to the logistics of a fatal accident, and that could have some massive implications on laws and, ultimately, motorists.


In Summary

Phone use is electronically tethered to the Internet, thus creating a permanent and flawless record of how we’re behaving. If law enforcement is able to match up a cluster of texts to a time directly before an accident, who is to say how that could influence short-term charges and long-term legislation?

Could we be looking at a future in which an accident like this results in charges of manslaughter or negligent homicide based on the evidence of cellphone records? It’s hard to say. But one thing is certain. Law enforcement has more tools than ever before to pinpoint distracted driving behaviors while one is behind the wheel. And a fatal accident could give them more than enough authority to use those tools.

That’s why it is more important than ever to emphasize good driving behaviors to your auto insurance leads & customers and to make sure they’re passing those behaviors along to their children.

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