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According to the largest distracted driving study conducted to date, 88 percent of drivers use their phones while behind the wheel. Whether they are texting, talking, or navigating the web, many of these drivers seem oblivious to the dangers of their behavior. Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for even a few seconds – including use of a cell phone. In 2105 alone, 3,477 people were fatally injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers. Clearly, more needs to be done to address the dangers of distracted driving.
Researchers at Zendrive, maker of an app that measures driving activity, conducted the study analyzing the cellphone use of more than three million drivers over a three-month period ending in February 2017. After reviewing 570 million car trips, Zendrive found that drivers use their phones for an average of three and half minutes for every hour of driving.
Prior research shows that reading or composing a text message while driving at a speed of 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed, making it impossible to see or react to hazards in time. Using the phone hand-free is not a safe alternative either. According to AAA, a driver using a phone hands-free is two to four times more likely to crash than a driver not using a phone.
Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that cell phone use has been decreasing slightly from year to year, the numbers are still very concerning. NHTSA reports that women drivers use cellphones behind the wheel more than men. Cell phone use behind the wheel is greatest among drivers aged 16 – 24, and lowest among drivers aged 70 and older.
Many states have laws on the books in some way regulating cellphone use by drivers. Fourteen states prohibit all drivers from using their cell phones behind the wheel. Thirty-eight states prohibit novice drivers from using phones, and twenty states prohibit school bus drivers from using phones. Forty-seven states ban all drivers from texting behind the wheel. All states except two include distraction as a category on crash reports. In some states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, using a hand-held device such as a phone while driving is a primary offense. This means a police officer can stop and ticket the driver without having to cite him or her with any other moving violation.
With 88 percent of drivers still using their phones behind the wheel, what can be done to curb distracted driving? Preventing distracted driving begins with education and awareness. Educators, safety advocates, law enforcement officials, and parents should continue to communicate the very real consequences of using a phone while driving – especially to novice drivers. NHTSA partners with state and local law enforcement on several effective public awareness campaigns throughout the country. Consistent laws and tougher penalties will also discourage distracted drivers from repeating dangerous behaviors.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, the South Jersey personal injury lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. can help. We will fight to recover the maximum compensation you need and deserve to help with medical bills and lost wages. Schedule a free case review with a South Jersey car accident lawyer by calling 856-354-9444 or contact us online.