Distracted driving, in any form, can be extremely dangerous and may lead to a deadly crash. Texting and driving, however, is a particularly poignant hazard, especially now that the practice seems to be so commonplace, and so deadly.
At least 3,166 people died in 2017 due to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and a total of 9.5% of all fatal crashes over the past 6 years have involved a distracted driver. Although several states have strict laws against cell phone use while driving, surveys tell us that several drivers continue to text or call while driving anyways.
The NHTSA’s surveys indicate that, during the day, roughly 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or some other electronic devices at any given moment, which translates to 5% of all American drivers. Their research also indicates that most drivers approve of laws against texting while driving (74%) although a significant portion of drivers (14%) openly admitted to sending text messages or emails while behind the wheel.
If these statistics tell us anything, it’s that distracted driving is a deadly problem, and texting while driving is a major contributing factor. If you or someone you love was harmed in an accident caused by a distracted driver, make sure you have all the facts. Discover what makes texting and driving so dangerous, how teenagers play a role, and find out who could be liable in after a crash.
Why Is Texting and Driving Dangerous?
Texting requires the driver to remove a hand from the wheel in order to operate their phone, which can compromise their ability to control the vehicle. Even if the driver uses a voice command feature, they will still be mentally distracted as they formulate a text. In fact, a study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute found that cell phone use affects the brain activity associated with driving, reducing it by up to 37% while driving. And, of course, texting often requires the rider to look away from the road. In short, texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it distracts several of the driver’s senses, compromising their visibility, attention, and physical control.
Teenage Drivers & Phone Use
Perhaps due to their near-constant exposure to technology, teens are especially susceptible to the dangers of texting and driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 42% of high school students in 2017 sent a text or email while driving at least once in the past 30 days. And, the CDC reports that drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of fatal car accidents caused by distracted driving. If you were involved in a damaging crash with a teenage driver, it may be worth considering whether or not they were distracted by their cell phone at the time of the crash.
Criminal Consequences for Distracted Drivers
A distracted driving accident can be extremely damaging and can result in serious injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers, passengers, or anyone else on the road. That being said, the accident can also alter the life of the negligent driver. Distracted driving can spark a personal injury lawsuit, to be sure, but it can also lead to criminal charges. As we mentioned earlier, many states have strict laws against cell phone use while driving, which means distracted drivers could face hefty fines, drivers’ license suspension, and imprisonment.
In one such case, a New Jersey woman was convicted of vehicular homicide by a Monmouth County jury after rear-ending a vehicle that ultimately struck and killed a pedestrian. At the time of the crash, evidence suggests the driver was reading a text message about her dinner plans. Because of this momentary lapse in judgment, the driver now faces a possible 10-year prison term.
If you were injured by a distracted driver who was texting or reading a text message at the time of an accident, make sure you know your legal options. The negligent driver should be held responsible for the damage you’ve suffered, and our firm is here to help advocate on your behalf to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.