Source: Durham Constabulary

Warning: Shocking Graphic Video of Actual Fatal Highway Accident Caused By Distracted Driving

Viewer discretion is advised.

Editor’s Note: This article contains videos whose content may be considered too graphic in nature for some readers. Viewer discretion is advised.


In an effort to get the word out about how dangerous is driving while distracted, this video was recently released from the Durham Constabulary — which is the police force responsible for policing ceremonial county of County Durham in North East England in the United Kingdom — that shows footage of an actual fatal accident which occurred on the northbound lanes of the A1(M) carriageway near Bowburn on Thursday, July 15, 2021 at 6:18 in the evening.

Warning: Shocking Graphic Video of Actual Fatal Highway Accident Caused By Distracted Driving

Forensic examinations of the mobile telephone of Ion Nicu Onut revealed that he had been repeatedly using the Internet web browser on the device throughout his journey while driving a Scania truck from Cambridgeshire right up until the time of the collision, in which his vehicle — which was carrying fertilizer — was traveling at 58 miles per hour when it struck another large truck and four cars before finally coming to rest in the median of the highway and bursting into flames.

The distance between Cambridgeshire and Bowburn is 212 miles, which can consume approximately 3.5 hours to complete.

“I have to live with this for the rest of my life,” said Onut, who is a father and husband, is 42 years of age, and was charged with three counts of causing death by dangerous driving — to which he admitted. He is currently incarcerated for eight years and ten months; and he was also disqualified from driving for greater than 14 years. “I never had a chance to apologise, to say sorry for what I had done to those who lost their loved ones, the people who were injured, the ones who suffer from flashbacks.”

Paul Mullen, Elaine Sullivan, and David Daglis were immediately killed at the scene of the accident; and several other people were injured — including Molly Smith, who was pregnant at the time of the incident. The survivors will never be able to fully recover from the accident psychologically.

Keep in mind that none of the footage in the following video — which was pieced together from multiple videos and created as a documentary — was recreated or simulated; and no actors were hired to work in this production. It is all real; so I must again warn you that the following video is quite graphic and not recommended for you to view if you are squeamish or prone to nightmares.

Without further ado, here is the video in its entirety.

“By being on my phone for a long period of time and then realising the traffic ahead of me had stopped, I had absolutely zero chance to act and pull my brakes on”, Onut said. “It shows you how quickly it happens, and how quickly your life changes from being normal to now being in prison, having a sentence of eight years. I have never been involved in anything with the police before, and then for using your mobile phone at the wheel you are here, away from the real world and friends and family.”

Onut watched the video of what happened while he was undergoing interrogation at the headquarters of the police department — and his expression as a result is included in the aforementioned video. “When I saw the videos of what happened it was unimaginable and hard to see. It was so disturbing knowing that was me in that lorry ploughing through the cars.”

Final Boarding Call

Readers of The Gate know that I rarely use words such as shocking; but in this case, I believe that it is appropriate…

…and even still, I have seen videos which are arguably more graphic posted on the Internet which have the ones included in this article pale in comparison — believe it or not. Simply use a search term such as Russia car crash videos — if you dare view them.

As a reminder to not drive a motor vehicle while distracted, additional videos from this article — which was posted here at The Gate on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 — follow the conclusion of this article.

You would think that the reasons are obvious as to why you should not text while driving any vehicle; but people do it anyway in all different types of situations — whether crawling along in traffic during rush hour, thinking that the flow of vehicles are moving slow enough that no harm can be done in using a portable electronic device; or zooming out on the open road where there seems to be no other motorists or signs of life for endless miles.

The truth is that any distraction to a driver is a potential recipe for disaster. I witness it multiple times every day: the woman who snails along at half the posted speed limit; the teenager who drifts across a pavement marking such as a double yellow line; or the man who constantly applies his brake for no reason every few seconds — all dividing their attentions between the increasingly ubiquitous portable electronic device and navigating a potential weapon which weighs at least a ton.

Taking risks needlessly is simply senseless. Think about it: while you are driving a motor vehicle, is anything really that important which cannot wait for your input or involvement?

If you cannot save your calls, posts, text messages, e-mail messages, voice mail messages, surfing the Internet, or other activities which are done on portable electronic devices once you arrive safely at your destination, at least pull over and park in a safe area to complete your business until you are ready to continue your drive…

…and whether you rent a car or drive your own vehicle, if you think that you are impervious to a similar scenario possibly happening to you: just remember that it only takes a few critical seconds — and an irreversible situation — to find out whether or not you were correct…

…or wrong.

Although Onut absolutely should pay for an incident that he caused — which could have been avoided completely and easily — I do give him credit for stepping up to spread the word about what he did in the hopes that other people will learn from his tragic experience…

…and — perhaps — save some lives as a result.

Please do not be one of the approximately 70 percent of people who engage with portable electronic devices while driving, as those motorists foolishly and unnecessarily put themselves and others at risk. Whatever business or activity you may believe that you need to conduct with your portable electronic device at that moment…

…well — it can wait…

Videos and screen shots are the property of their respective owners; and are used in this article with their intended purpose in mind: as a public service announcement.


This video was released from the New York State Department of Transportation which shows a motorist who is presumed to be distracted and crashes a vehicle into the rear end of a Highway Emergency Local Patrol — or HELP — truck on the Taconic State Parkway.

This educational campaign by AT&T which focuses on distracted driving hits home with this powerfully impactful video, which introduces us to six perfectly average characters on a perfectly average day in a perfectly average town — think the 1967 song Pleasant Valley Sunday as performed by The Monkees — whose lives are irrevocably and permanently altered by the devastating consequences of a seemingly innocent glance at a portable electronic device while driving.

While that particular video is indeed compelling, I am reminded of this impactful video — which first appeared ten years ago from the United Kingdom — pertaining to the portrayal of three teenaged girls who tragically fall victim to distracted driving; but I must again warn you that the following video is quite graphic and not recommended for you to view if you are squeamish or prone to nightmares:

The videos may actual be too good, as they could fuel cynics into accusing them of being overdramatic; but the message is still quite clear — and the possibility of the fictional occurrences actually happening in real life are quite real.

This video report from ABC News shows actual footage of truck drivers texting while driving — including a real collision which resulted in a fatility, recorded on video:

This video imparts some very sobering statistics:

Visit the It Can Wait website to join greater than 40,000,000 other people who pledged to keep their eyes on the road — not on their mobile telephones — while they are driving.

My Own Experience — Which Was Fortunately Benign

I actually made my pledge years ago before there was any public awareness pertaining to the use of portable electronic devices while driving — and that was based on my own personal experience.

I was in Birmingham in Alabama on a business trip with a cellular telephone I borrowed from a girlfriend of mine at the time, as I did not own my own telephone. I had just completed my visit to a client and was driving down a moderately busy road when I decided to place a quick call to her and let her know that I was done with the client.

The telephone call was indeed quick, and there was no incident of which to speak; but I do recall how difficult it was for me to concentrate on driving while tapping the telephone number and speaking on the telephone itself — and it was then that I not only realized how potentially dangerous what I did was; but I also vowed to myself at that point to never do it again…

…and to this day, I have kept my promise.

I have driven multiple times on the Taconic State Parkway; and it is not exactly the safest highway on which to drive. It is quite narrow in numerous areas. The highway — which is four lanes wide — is a limited access highway; but it does have occasional at-grade intersections along its route which can be quite dangerous. I know, because I remember the mother of a childhood friend was killed in an automobile accident on the Taconic State Parkway years ago when his sister decided to turn — not realizing until it was too late that the turn caused the car to suddenly be in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Again: it can wait…

  1. When hands-free cellular calling was mandated by some states, I noticed it liberated a hand so the driver could operate the turn signals more frequently.

    Still, hands free calling only slightly mitigated distracted driving. In multitasking, particularly a complex activity like driving, the brain switches back and forth between the two activities, until one activity overcomes the other. Usually, the phone conversation predominates.

    Texting while operating a motor vehicle is an accident waiting to happen.

    1. I agree with you, Firstlast; but then I wonder: is having a conversation with a passenger in the car — which has been around for decades — considered to be distracted driving?

      1. Absolutely! I drove near daily with three little kids (plus their friends) in my car. They were generally well-behaved but chatty and sometimes loud. I often found that more distracting than a quiet phone call.

        Texting is an obvious no-no as it is just too much a physical and mental distraction. But i find that phone calls, especially hands-free, are no more distracting than the regular occupants in the car.

        1. Interesting, NB_ga

          …so let us suppose that texting and other uses of a mobile telephone which require hands cease to occur. How would the rate of accidents of motor vehicles from hands-free conversations using a portable electronic device differ from those which may happen when dealing with distractions from other people in the same vehicle?

      2. That is an astute observation. I had noticed,when a passive passenger is in my car their mere presence causes me to drive slower, in anticipation of conversation.

  2. I am cautious about driving in front of a semi. Those trucks can’t stop as easily and are also so heavy that the kinetic energy can easily crush my car.

    I also do not text or use the internet while driving. I find that slow, creeping traffic is very dangerous because it often stops. Instead, stopping for a moment to reply to very important messages is better or waiting until reaching the destination for messages that are not urgent.

    Bluetooth/hands free calls are more distracting than conversation because conversation stops during momentary changes in driving condition. I also find that concentration is reduced when driving and talking on the phone but not when talking with a passenger. Shouting children are a different matter. What I find better when using Bluetooth is if the caller on the other end is aware of the driving and is patient enough to pause or accept pauses in conversation.

    I might note that even driving on the highway requires more concentration than people may think. I believe one should constantly look far ahead, look in the rear view mirror and side mirrors at all times such that they have an awareness of what cars are around them. Know if there is a car behind towards the right, for example. Know that you could, in an emergency, suddenly change lanes and know that there is no car there (or know there is a car there). That type of driving takes more concentration than simply looking at the car ahead.

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