Authored by Allan Siegel
Over the course of the past several years, there has been an explosion in cell phone technology. What at one time seemed feats of science fiction are now everyday realities. Throughout the United States and in nations abroad, countless individuals – including even the youngest of children – are constantly plugged in and engaged in "another world" via their smart phones or cell phones. While the innovations our society has been able to produce are truly outstanding and warrant praise for their abilities to make our lives easier, facilitate connections, and share ideas, they are not without their downside. As with most things, pros are often accompanied by a list of cons.
And "cons" certainly exist when it comes to cell phone use. While some may support or oppose the ways in which smart phones have significantly changed the way we interact and communicate with one another, few can deny disagree about the fact that they also create several alarming, immediate, and pressing concerns. Among these, the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel loom large. Considered one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, texting at the wheel is an immensely dangerous, highly negligent, and – in Washington, DC – an explicitly unlawful act.
The Dangers of Texting Behind the Wheel
The first and most important thing one should realize about texting while driving is that it is profoundly dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Transportation – distracted driving and texting while driving are among the most pressing concerns on U.S. roadways, right along with drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs. According to statistics compiled by the NHTSA, distracted drivers were reportedly responsible for more than 3,300 deaths and nearly 400,000 injuries in motor vehicle accidents in 2011 alone.
As text messaging is an act that commands a motorist's visual, cognitive, and manual attention simultaneously, it is considered by far and above the most alarming form of driver distraction. As numerous studies can attest – one particular Virginia Tech Study found that texting creates a crash risk 23x worse than not texting – the dangers of text messaging while operating a motor vehicle are clear, not to mention something that all drivers should be well aware of.
Washington, DC Texting Laws
Perhaps because smart phone use and technology boomed so rapidly, law and policy changes were, and continue to be, somewhat slow to adapt. Currently, Washington, DC, 41 U.S. states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. The state of Virginia just passed a full texting ban this past April. In Washington, DC, the notable texting and cell phone laws in place are as follows:
- Handheld ban for all drivers
- Ban on texting for all drivers
Bans on using a cell phone and text messaging are primary laws in the District of Columbia. This means that law enforcement officers can ticket drivers for such an offense without any other traffic violations taking place. Secondary laws, on the other hand, require law enforcement officers to pull a driver over for another traffic violation in order for them to ticket the motorist for texting.
As time continues to reveal the extreme dangers of texting while driving, more states will surely adopt texting bans. The fact that text messaging is not already banned in every state throughout the nation, however, does seem to resemble the legal status of drunk driving years ago. Many in the legal profession actually find a number of similarities between drunk driving and texting while driving. They are both willful acts, they are both extremely dangerous, and they are both actions that any reasonable person should know places others at risk of suffering harm.
The Rights of Injured Distracted Driving Victims
Because texting while driving is dangerous, careless, unlawful, and an act that a driver should know places others at an increased risk for injury, motorists who cause accidents because they were texting should be held accountable for their wrongful acts and liable for the damages they cause to others. If you, your loved one, or someone you care about has been injured in a car accident or auto accident that you believe was caused by a driver who was texting or distracted, you have every legal right to pursue a recovery of your losses. Learn more about your potential claim and how our firm's Washington, DC car accident attorneys can be of assistance by contacting Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. today.