Using a smartphone while driving is incredibly dangerous and may lead to catastrophic and fatal accidents. In 2020, 3,142 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Learn what makes distracted driving so dangerous and why you should think twice before picking up your phone in the car.
The Same as Driving Blindfolded
Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, that is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field while blindfolded. While no one would attempt to drive the length of a football field while blindfolded, many decide to engage in an activity that is just as blinding—texting while driving.
Using a smart phone while driving is particularly dangerous because it affects all three levels of attention: visual, manual, and cognitive.
- Visual: Takes a driver’s eyes off the road.
- Manual: Takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: Takes a driver’s mind off the task of driving.
Distracted Driving Laws Across the United States
Distraction-related crashes caused nine fatalities and 1,000 injuries per day in 2020.
To reduce these statistics and keep drivers safe on the road, several states have enacted distracted driving laws meant to curb phone use while driving, including the following regulations:
Hand-Held Cell Phone Use: 30 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. In these states, a law enforcement officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
All Mobile Phone Use: While no state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, 36 states and Washington D.C. ban all cellphone use by novice drivers, and 23 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
Text Messaging: In 2007, Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban. Currently, 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, ban text messaging for all drivers. Of the two states without an all driver texting ban, one prohibits text messaging by novice drivers.
Additionally, in 2022 the U.S. Department of Transportation released the National Roadway Safety Strategy. Part of the strategy includes supporting vehicle technology systems that detect distracted driving.
Congress also provided resources in 2021 to add distracted driving awareness of driver’s license exams as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Young Drivers and Distracted Driving
According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 60% of motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers were due to distracted driving. Teens are more likely to be engaged in risky behavior behind the wheel, such as texting or taking selfies. But it’s not just young drivers who are at risk.
A separate study found that adults aged 25-34 are more likely to be involved in distracted driving crashes. So whether you’re a teen or an adult, it’s important to put your smartphone and other electronic devices down while driving.
Tips For Practicing Distraction-Free Driving
If you find yourself struggling to put your smartphone down while driving, here are a few tips to help you stay safe behind the wheel:
- Put your phone in the glove compartment or trunk before you start driving. This way, you won’t be tempted to reach for it while on the road.
- If you must use your phone while driving, pull over to a safe location first.
- Use hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth headsets or car mounts to make calls or use your smartphone hands-free.
- Download a driving app that will disable your phone while you’re behind the wheel.
Following these tips can help reduce the risk of being involved in a distracted driving crash.
Other Risky Driving Behaviors to Watch Out For
In addition to using your smartphone while driving, there are other risky behaviors that you should watch out for. For example, drinking and driving, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt are dangerous activities that can lead to serious accidents. So if you’re going to be behind the wheel, make sure to practice safe driving habits!
Injured in a Car Accident? Contact an Attorney Today
Despite these laws, many motorists continue to engage in distracted driving. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our Washington, D.C. car accident attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel P.C. are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Do not spend one more day paying for someone else’s negligence.
Contact us today at (202) 788-0418 to learn how we can assist you.