We often notice the distracted driver who is having a heated conversation on the phone, texting their friends, or (as crazy as it may be) updating their Facebook page. They are doing all of these things instead of paying attention to the road and what is going on around them. This creates a very dangerous situation on our roads and highways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2008 that driver distraction was the cause of 16 percent of all fatal crashes-5,800 people killed, and 21 percent of crashes resulting in an injury. The NHTSA reported that text messaging was associated with the highest level of distraction potential. Ironically, 95 percent of drivers state that texting while driving is unacceptable, but over 50 percent admitted to doing it anyway.
Just how dangerous is texting while driving compared to drinking and driving? The editors at Car and Driver recently conducted an interesting study to compare the results of texting to the effects of drunk driving on the same day and under the exact same conditions. The results were shocking. A totally unimpaired driver can respond and begin braking within half a second. A drunk driver needs four more feet to begin braking. A person texting and driving needs an astounding 70 more feet to begin braking. This informal study shows that texting is more dangerous than driving drunk.
The perilous act of texting and driving is widely known and illegal in many states, it is being recognized as reckless behavior. In the unfortunate event when a crash occurs, attorneys, insurance companies, and enforcement officers are beginning to use the information gathered from cell towers to determine if an accident was caused by distracted drivers who were texting. In fact cell tower records can usually provide geographic coordinates of the specific tower that a cell phone sent a signal to during oncoming/outgoing call and texts. In turn, this information can be plotted onto a map and can determine if a person was on the phone when the crash occurred. The coordinates of specific cell towers can also be used to determine the drivers rate of speed. If an attorney reasonably show that a driver was texting at the time of a crash, they may be entitled to seek punitive damages.
The easiest way to avoid being on either side of a case like this is simple, resist the urge to text. There are currently 35 states with bans on texting while driving, but law makers are encouraging all states to incorporate the ban. Some states are going as far as to banning any type of usage of cell phones while driving.
This information and the facts listed above are quite shocking, we need to limit the amount of distractions we allow, while we are behind the wheel of a car, both for us and for the people we are sharing a road with. We must educate younger drivers about the hazards of allowing distractions and the possible consequence that can happen when we do.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, whether it was caused by a texting driver or just a driver that was not paying attention, please contact the attorneys at Brannon & Brannon for a free consultation. Just call 850-863-LAWS (5297).