FAIRBANKS - An early morning head-on collision on Phillips Field Road is being blamed on an untimely text message by a suspected drunken driver.
Roger Dean Ostbloom, 40, was reportedly sending a text message from his phone on Sunday while driving his Ford F-150 pickup westbound and drifted into the oncoming lane of
Fairbanks Police arrived at 12:29 a.m. to find both vehicles with severe front-end damage.
Adam Strom, the driver of the Avalanche, suffered a broken femur in the accident and was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for surgery.
Ostbloom told police he was texting and saw the oncoming vehicle immediately before impact. Strom said he slowed in an attempt to avoid a collision.
Ostbloom, who was not hospitalized, also smelled of alcohol and had watery eyes and slurred speech, according to charging documents. A chemical test showed he had a breath-alcohol content of 0.097, slightly more than the legal limit of 0.08.
He was charged with driving a motor vehicle with a screen device operating, a law that makes texting while driving illegal. He was also charged with felony second-degree assault and driving under the influence of alcohol.
It's been illegal to text while driving in Alaska since 2008, but texting arrests remain uncommon in Alaska. Two local people were arrested for the offense last year, but neither was involved in an accident.
Cindy Cashen, administrator for the Alaska Highway Safety Office, said studies show texting while driving is a particularly risky form of "distracted driving." Authorities, however, are rarely in a position to blame texting as the primary cause of an accident.
"Unfortunately, the data doesn't show it's a very serious problem, but that's because it's very difficult to enforce," Cashen said.
Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.