Texting while driving is distracted driving and is extremely risky, posing danger to everyone on and near roads. In just one year, distracted driving accounted for more than 2,800 deaths. Read on to learn more about texting while driving, the potential penalties, and what to if you are a victim of a texting while driving accident.
Frequency of Texting While Driving Accidents
Texting and other cell phone use are among the leading causes of distracted driving accidents. The AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index has found that even though nearly all drivers see texting or emailing while driving as dangerous, almost half of all drivers had admitted to doing so in the past 30 days. This is reflected in accident data, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that cell-phone use accounts for 14 percent of all distracted driving accidents.
While many states have “hands-free statutes,” these alone appear not to always deter texting while driving, particularly teen drivers. Teen drivers are as much as four times likely to be texting while driving which poses increased risks on the road.
Penalties Associated With Texting While Driving
Drivers who use cell phones while driving face serious penalties, especially if they have prior offenses. Besides monetary fines, drivers who use cell phones while driving may jeopardize their right to drive at all. While a first-time offender might not have any points assessed against their driver’s license, they generally will have points assessed for any subsequent offenses.
What’s more, points may remain on one’s license for a year or more and a driver who racks up enough points against their license may have their right to drive suspended. Stricter rules apply to those who have commercial driver’s licenses, or those who transport children to and from school on buses.
Rideshare Drivers and Cell Phone Use While Driving Accidents
While most studies show teens are the most likely to text while driving, there is another group of drivers who also are likelier to put others at risk by using cell phones while driving—rideshare drivers. Rideshare drivers depend on their “active” status to secure fares. This is done through an application where the driver marks themselves “available” to pick up a fare.
Rideshare drivers may be distracted by application notifications that pop up while they are driving. While texting or calling while driving accidents can be caused by anyone, because of the way rideshare apps are designed, the statistics bear out that rideshare drivers account for a significant portion who are in accidents involving cell phone use.
Hazards Posed by Texting While Driving
How long does it take to look at your telephone and read a text message? How long does it take to respond to a text message? On average, a text takes approximately five seconds to respond to. This means you have enough time to go the length of a football field if you are traveling at 55 miles per hour. Imagine the devastation which can be caused over such a stretch, in the blink of an eye.
Texting while driving accidents can leave victims with serious injuries including spinal cord injuries, neck and back injuries, and broken bones. Victims can spend weeks or months recovering from their injuries, if they recover at all. Medical bills, damage to your vehicle, and lost wages can have a serious impact on your financial future. Because texting while driving often prevents the distracted driver from being aware of the need to maneuver to avoid a crash, the accidents they cause can be full-force, direct collisions causing the most severe levels of injury.
Caution Does Not Prevent Texting While Driving Accidents
Even drivers who are aware that their auto insurance rates may skyrocket in the event they are caught texting and driving do not appear to consider just how much their insurance premiums will increase if they cause an accident. Because of how prevalent texting and driving is, defensive driving is more important than ever. But it can be near-impossible to identify a driver who is texting and driving, and trying to do so may pose a danger in itself.
When You Are a Victim of Texting While Driving Accidents
Anyone who has been involved in a car accident knows how much confusion occurs at the time of the accident. It is clearly most important you get checked thoroughly by a physician following a car accident. But car accidents also pose challenges of figuring out how to recover compensation for injuries, reporting to police, making arrangements with work, and more.
While this whirlwind of problems may be disorienting, it is important to exercise caution after an accident, particularly when speaking to other drivers and police, as you could end up making a statement that jeopardizes any future claims for compensation you make. Additionally, it is best to avoid discussing the accident with an insurance adjuster before you speak with an experienced car accident attorney.
Some of the things you will want to do following an accident include:
- Obtaining the contact information for all drivers and witnesses
- Contacting your insurance company and informing them of the accident
- Obtaining a copy of the accident report from the police
- Following up with all recommended medical treatment
- Documenting any change in your physical condition
The more serious your injuries, the bigger your medical bills and the longer you will be out of work. Look into your options for recovering compensation as soon as possible. Failing to do so soon enough may result in losing your opportunity to file any claim altogether. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you figure out your deadlines to file claims and other time-sensitive matters.
Use Caution When Speaking With Insurance Company
Whether you talk to your own insurance agent or you speak with an adjuster who asks about your medical condition or damages to your car, exercise great caution. Insurance adjusters ask questions to solicit specific information from you to minimize their liability.
Consulting an attorney before communicating with an insurance company can be greatly valuable, as an attorney can help you navigate all stages of the process, from filing your initial claim to ultimately obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Many attorneys provide free consultations, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone after an accident to discuss your options.