Driving Under the Influence of Mobile Phones
Distracted While Driving
Using a mobile phone while driving has become almost second nature for many drivers, but it is proving to be a dangerous task. Over the last 15 years, the number of cell phone subscribers has increased by 1,262.4%, among who are also drivers on our roads. The use of cell phones while driving has led to an epidemic in auto accidents (called the “distracted while driving” phenomena). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considers distracted driving to include engaging in such activities as: conversing with other occupants in the car, using a cell phone and other electronic devices (such as a GPS), eating, drinking, smoking, reaching for an object, adjusting the radio or environmental controls and utilizing computers and DVD players.
In 2011 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report on distracted driving fatalities for 2009. It was reported that 5,474 people were killed in car crashes by distracted drivers. Of these, 995 accident victims were killed by drivers distracted specifically by cell phone usage.
Driving while distracted is estimated to contribute as much as 13% of all traffic crashes in the United States, while other studies put this figure as high as 25%. A 2002 Harvard Center for Risk Analysis calculated that as many 330,000 people are injured every year as a result of drivers using cell phones.
The statistics associated with cell phone usage and auto accidents is nothing short of shocking. In 2008 it was estimated that, at any given moment, over 800,000 Americans were making calls, texting, emailing or using a smart phone application while driving during the day.
A recent US Department of Transportation Consumer Reports study recently showed that:
- 63% of people under the age of 30 admitted to driving while using a cell phone
- 30% admitted to sending a text message while driving
- 56% of teenagers admitted to talking on cell phones while behind the wheel
- 48% of American children between the age of 12 and 17 said that they had been a passenger in a car while the driver was texting
- 34% of American teenagers between the age of 12 and 17 admitted to text messaging while driving
- 21% of all fatal car crashes involving American teenagers between the age of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage in one form or another
- 50% of all drivers between the ages of 12 and 14 texting while driving
- The risk of an auto or truck accident is 23 times more likely while texting
Based on a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI):
- Of all cell phone related tasks – including talking, dialing, or reaching for the phone – texting while driving is the most dangerous.
- Teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near crash events directly related to talking on a cell phone or texting.
- A car driver dialing a cell phone is 2.8 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-distracted driver.
- A driver reaching for a cell phone or any other electronic device is 1.4 times more likely to experience a car crash.
- A car driver talking on their phone is 1.3 times more likely to get into an accident.
- A truck driver texting while driving is 23.2 times more likely to get into an accident than a trucker paying full attention to the road.
- A truck driver dialing a cell is 5.9 times more likely to crash.
- A trucker reaching for a phone or other device is 6.7 times more likely to experience a truck accident.
- For every 6 seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road. This makes texting the most distracting of all cell phone related tasks.
As you can see from these statistics, car crashes have taken the lead as the number one cause of teen deaths. Because of increased cell phone usage by teen drivers, teens are also trending to have three times more fatal accidents as other drivers.
Drunk Driving vs. Distracted Driving
A 2003 study by the University of Utah measured driver response time comparing alcohol intoxicated drivers and drivers using a cell phone. The study found that cell phone users were 20% slower in brake onset time and applied 20% less braking force than drunk drivers. The study concluded that cell phone drivers exhibited greater impairment than intoxicated drivers while operating a motor vehicle. This explains why nearly 80% of all car accidents are caused by driving while distracted while drunk drivers account for 33% of all auto accidents in the United States.
Restricting Cell Phone Use While Driving
A new Nationwide Insurance Company study reported that four out of 10 Americans say they have been hit or nearly hit by a driver distracted by their cell phone. This has become the driving force for a change in public sentiment showing varying degrees of support for different types of restrictions on cell phone usage while driving.
Below are some statistics regarding distracted driving restrictions:
- 80% of drivers support some type of cell phone use or restriction
- 80% of drivers support a ban on text messaging while driving
- 80% of drivers support a ban on emailing while driving
- 70% of drivers believe that the laws should apply to all drivers, not specific age groups
Practice Safety When Driving
The age of technology is here to stay. When the automobile was introduced in 1769 (recorded as the first vehicle to move under its own power) the first auto accident was soon to follow. The subsequent injuries to millions of people from car accidents led to a host of new safety inventions and motor vehicle laws. Now the introduction of the cell phone and the increase in “driving while distracted” auto accidents and truck accidents has created the need for safety devices and laws for the motoring public (such as limiting the more dangerous aspects, like texting, of this new technology).
It is important for everyone to set a good example for our children and not use cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. Educating our children regarding the risks of driving while distracted is just as important as educating our children about driving under the influence.
For more information on automobile safety, or if you have been involved in an auto accident or truck accident as a result of a distracted driver, the Florida accident law firm of Rue & Ziffra is here to help. We have a staff of 8 attorneys knowledgeable in various aspects of personal injury law ready to take your free consultation.
Rue & Ziffra proudly serves areas throughout Volusia County and Flagler County, Florida, including, Port Orange, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, DeLand, Deltona, Bunnell, Orange City, Sanford, Orlando and Leesburg. The firm handles many areas of personal injury, including auto accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents.
The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.