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Steven M. Lee, PC

Risks of Driving While Using a Cell Phone


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2/27/2016
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Cell phone distraction is a leading cause of car crashesWhether it is an Android, a smartphone, or a phablet, 90 percent of U.S. residents own some sort of personal cell phone—and this includes children as young as five years old. A study by the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) showed that there were over 355 million active cell phone devices in the United States in 2014. This number is larger than the entire American population.

Sure, a cell phone is convenient and wonderful to have in case of an emergency, but cell phones are also one of the main causes of distracted driving in the United States.

The Many Ways a Phone Can Distract

A driving distraction can be caused by anything that takes your focus off of the road for even a second. Looking at a passenger beside you, fiddling with the radio, rooting in the back seat for a tissue…these are all common distractions that can cause you to take your eyes off the road and lose control of your vehicle. However, the number one distraction for drivers aged 16 to 44?—cell phones.

According to 2014 data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during any particular daylight moment throughout the year, 587,632 drivers were estimated to have been carelessly using a wireless device when they should have been focused on the road. This number has remained steady since 2010. Over the past five years, over 100 thousand collisions, 15 thousand accident fatalities, and two million injuries were caused as a result of one of the following cell phone distractions:

  • Talking. Whether hand-held or hands-free, talking on a cell phone diverts your attention away from the road and “blinds” you from noticing potential dangers.
  • Texting. Five seconds is the average time it takes to reply to a text. This means that every time you text you take your eyes off the road for at least a count of five Mississippis. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field…only in this case, the field is also filled with other speeding cars, crossing pedestrians, and other various obstacles, and you’ve chosen to cross it blindfolded.
  • Photographing. If texting is bad, taking and posting photos is horrendous. Not only does the process take longer than sending a text, but the primping, posing, and adjustments of getting the perfect shot can drastically affect your driving capabilities.
  • Uploading. Checking social media, posting status updates, and uploading images again all take time and focus—focus you can’t afford to take off the road.

And let’s mention the special bonus distraction that most people don’t even think about:

  • Using a hands-free device. These devices are not safe; they are only a little less dangerous than using a handheld device. Just because something is safer, doesn’t mean people cannot get hurt when they are used. Even with both hands on the steering wheel, a driver can completely miss important things right in front of her, like traffic lights, pedestrians, or potential hazards as a result of splitting her focus.

Consequences of Distraction

In a recent study conducted by the University of Utah for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers determined what happens to a driver’s mental workload when he attempts to do multiple things at once. Drivers were asked to engage in common tasks, like listening to an audio book, talking on the phone, and listening or responding to voice-activated emails. The results were astounding, although not surprising. Drivers who talk on cell phones were found to be just as impaired behind the wheel as drivers who are legally drunk.

The data showed that as mental workload and distractions increase:

  • Reaction time stalls
  • Vehicle speed accelerates
  • Brain function weakens
  • Attention spans decrease
  • Safety reflexes (scanning the road, checking mirrors, correcting course, etc.) diminish
  • Visual awareness deteriorates

The technical term used to describe the technologically-based phenomenon is “inattention blindness.” As attorneys who protect the rights of car accident victims, we call it, at best, “irresponsibility,” and at worst, “negligence”.

In the four decades that we have been helping car accident victims, a majority of our guidance has gone to victims who have been seriously injured as a direct result of a distracted driver. As such, we have first-hand knowledge and justifiable indignation for those who get behind the wheel of a car and don’t dedicate their full attention to driving.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted car accident, you can bet your bottom dollar that we will place our full unwavering focus on getting you the compensation your injuries require. Pick up your phone and call our toll-free number (800-232-3711) to set up your free legal consultation today.



Category: Car Accidents and DWI Accidents

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Steven M. Lee
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