In 2011, at least 23% of auto accidents involved one of the drivers using a cell phone at the time of accident. Increases in technology have led to easy access to resources such as messaging, navigation, internet, emails, etc. Devices such as cell phones, navigation systems, iPads and other tablets, and miniature laptops are so small that they are easy to carry around and use in the car. The problem arises when these devices start getting used in the car while driving. In fact, in 2010, nearly 20% of all accidents involved some form of distracted driving.
Lately, the most prominent topics in the area of distracted driving are text messaging and navigation systems. Recently, a judge in California found it unlawful to use a cell phone navigation system. California law prohibits drivers from using their cell phone while driving for any other purpose than talking to someone over the phone. The California court found that the concern was about the interference with the driver’s attention to solely driving. The court found the statute is intended to decrease distractions while driving and increase driver’s attention to the road and those around them.
This is hardly surprising given studies show that just reaching for a cell phone while driving makes it almost twice as likely that a driver will be involved in an accident. Merely talking on the phone or simply listening to a voicemail or another person talk on the phone makes it almost 1.5 times more likely a driver will be in an accident. Studies also show that just dialing a phone number while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by nearly 300 percent. Finally, text messaging while driving increases the chances that an accident will occur by 2800 percent.
For this reason, 10 states have prohibited drivers from using handheld cell phones completely, 32 states prohibit new drivers from using cell phones, and 39 states prohibit all drivers from text messaging. But, the problem arises with enforcement. Often times it is hard for law enforcement to tell, at that moment, if someone is texting or using a handheld device because, typically, the person is driving by the cop and the police officer may only see them for a matter of seconds. Furthermore, a lot of people do not hold up their cell phones for everyone to see while texting or using the phone.
However, drivers have attempted to justify that they are able to still drive safely because they hold the phone near the windshield when texting. But, the same study shows that to send a text message it takes the driver’s eyes of the road for at least 4.6 seconds, which at 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field completely blind.
The largest age group for distracted driving is 18-25 year olds. And, 11% of drivers under the age of 20 involved in deadly crashes reported being distracted at the time of the accident.
For these reasons, companies such as AT&T, as well as government agencies, have launched “don’t text and drive” ad campaigns. Advertisements show mangled and permanently harmed victims of distracted drivers, that is of course if the victim is still alive.
The good news is that with the increase in cell phone technology, there has also been in increase in the ability to tell whether someone was using their phone while involved in an accident. Detailed cell phone records list not only calls, but also text-message records. The records can detail the time a call started and ended. Text messaging records can show when a text was received and when a text was sent. Furthermore, with technology such as iMessage (the text messaging platform for iPhone users) it is possible that you can tell when a person actually read a text message.
If you are the victim of an accident, it may not simply be because of bad chance. Instead, it might be because the other driving was distracted while using some kind of mobile device, especially cell phones. Having the right attorneys who know how to get to the bottom of what caused an accident is paramount to being able to fully hold those accountable who caused the accident. It is not fair to other drivers that a text message cannot wait, and because of things such as text messaging a driver becomes distracted and an accident becomes deadly or permanently debilitating.