Driving While Distracted: Put the Cell Phone Down

by Robert Schwartz

Every day on every kind of roadway people are seen driving while holding, texting and talking on cell phones.  One can easily see they are not paying attention to their driving.  They can be seen changing lanes without looking, veering into other lanes, running stop lights and signs, and rolling into and through pedestrian crosswalks.  We have done it, too.

Unfortunately, cell phones are a major distraction to someone driving a car.  Far more so than other common sights such as someone eating a hamburger while driving, drinking a beverage, singing to the radio, smoking or talking to others in the car.   All distractions can be a cause of a collision and form the basis for a civil personal injury lawsuit.  More importantly, though, is the fact the distracted driver may seriously injure or kill someone because they were talking on a cell phone.  That happens every day, too.

Research on distracted driving[1] by the US Governments’ Official Website for Distracted Driving shows there is a problem:

?             In 2008, slightly more than almost 20 percent of all crashes in the year involved some type of distraction. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA).

?             Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (NHTSA)

?             The younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

?             Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

?             Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)

So, how do we solve the problem?  Not using the cell phone while driving eliminates the problem, but that is going to be nearly impossible to sell to the cell phone addicted.  Hands-free devices do not eliminate the cell phone distraction, but it definitely minimizes it.

If you think you can drive while using a cell phone, you might rethink that in light of what you see other drivers do when they are using a cell phone.  If you think that you won’t be involved in a collision while using a cell phone, you might re-read these statistics and do some research on your own.  If you think you won’t seriously injure or kill someone while using a cell phone while driving, you are kidding yourself.  Lastly, if you have not considered that you could be arrested, charged with a crime, and prosecuted for hurting someone while driving and using a cell phone, put your cell phone down and think about it.


[1] http://www.distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/

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