Following a trial that began Feb 1 in Bell County district court, Keevin Deshawn Byrd, 23, of Killeen was found guilty of manslaughter by a Bell County jury on Feb 3, and was sentenced to eight years in prison

Byrd was arrested April 28, 2015, and charged with manslaughter in the Feb 21, 2015, vehicular death of Christopher L. Harvey, a pedestrian who was hit by Byrd’s vehicle.

According to an arrest affidavit, Harker Heights police responded to the intersection of Knight’s Way and Harley Drive at about 10 p.m. finding two wrecked vehicles and the body of Christopher L. Harvey in the driveway of a local business.

The affidavit stated “the vehicle Byrd was driving impacted a blue Crown Victoria, left the roadway, traveled through a ditch, struck Harvey, hit a concrete culvert, became airborne and struck a telephone pole before coming to rest in the driveway of 104 Knight’s Way.”

Police said they retrieved the black box from Byrd’s wrecked Honda, “which indicates that Byrd’s Honda was traveling approximately 95-103 miles an hour at the time of the accident.

Byrd must serve at least half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Four years is not much to pay for being responsible for the death of another human being. This man should be jumping for joy upon receiving such a light sentence.

This incident was not a traffic infraction but a hard-core crime.

About 40,000 people lose their lives every year due to major accidents while driving; 40 percent of these involve alcohol.

To put this into perspective, one person will die every 12 minutes. An alcohol-related death occurs every 30 minutes. If this doesn’t scare you, particularly with the number of alcohol-serving establishments in our area, it should.

It is estimated that after midnight on Friday and Saturday, one of every five cars on the road is being driven by a drunk. Think about that the next time you venture out during those times.

Reckless drivers are responsible for 33 percent of all deaths involving major car accidents in the U.S., and of these, 30 percent are attributed to speeding, according to the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB).

Six million accidents occur nationally every year. Three million people are injured in these accidents. Two million people experience permanent injuries resulting from these accidents.

Insurance carriers have higher rates for drivers 16 through 25 for a reason. Novice drivers, due to inexperience, are more likely to be involved in accidents than more mature drivers.

There are a few states mulling over the idea of raising the minimum driver’s license eligibility age to 18, as is the case in most European countries.

Additionally, in Europe, driver’s education with considerable on-the-road experience is mandatory.

Does this mean that the 25-and-under crowd are the accident causers? No, although an inordinate number of accidents involve them.

Here are the facts as reported by the NTSB:

Regardless of age, the majority of accidents are caused by irresponsible driving behavior. Statistics show that 98 percent of accidents involve a single distracted driver. Aggressive driving by drivers of all ages contributes to these staggering statistics. Road rage is among these.

Common distractions include cellphone usage, including texting, tuning entertainment media, rubbernecking while passing accidents, looking at scenery and passenger distractions.

It is conservatively estimated that the minimum amount of time one’s attention is taken off the road to send a text is 5 seconds. If one is traveling at 55 mph, during that short time, one has traveled 100 yards — the entire length of a football field — without looking at the road ahead.

A lot can and does happen in that short time and long distance.

Keep in mind that drunk driving is not a traffic violation. It is a crime.

John Vander WERFF is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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