Cell Phone Use While Driving Leads To More Serious CrashesNew Jersey Legal News
For many years now, a common slogan used to raise public awareness about the risks of distracted driving–more specifically the use of cell phones in the driver’s seat–has been to just hang up and drive. The intention behind the slogan is as relevant now as it ever has been. However, it needs to be updated based on surveys conducted by the Insurance Insititute for Highway Safety. It is true that cell phone use continues to be a primary factor contributing to fatal car crashes, but the way drivers interact with their cell phones has changed over the years.
Cell Phone Use Has Changed Over the Years
Before touchscreens were even introduced, cell phones were being used for much more than just making calls and sending texts. Our app stores are constantly being updated with new and approved apps, right in our pockets. Sadly, this ever-increasing range of new apps increases our temptation as drivers to be distracted. The IIHS survey found that drivers are talking into their hand-held devices less than before, but they are texting, looking up songs, using their GPS for directions, sending pictures to their friends, and playing games much more frequently. All these actions fall under the umbrella of using a cell phone, a unique form of driver distraction that has been increasing greatly in recent years, compared to other types of cell phone use which have been decreasing overall.
It goes without saying that drivers shouldn’t be on their phones when they are operating a motor vehicle. So, why does it matter if they are talking on it or using it for some other task? The difference between talking on and using a cell phone generally is pretty significant, it turns out. When a driver talks on a cell phone, they usually focus their gaze in the center of the road. This makes it more difficult for them to pay attention to certain details within their periphery of vision — like other cars, pedestrians, or animals entering their path. They also experience more difficulty trying to gauge what is happening. At the same time, when drivers use their phones in other ways, including texting, surfing the web, or using other phone apps, they are usually taking their focus off the road completely. Distracted driving experts have recognized three primary categories of driver distraction:
- Manual distraction, in which the driver removes their hand(s) from the steering wheel.
- Visual distraction, in which the driver’s eyes leave the roadway and mirrors to focus on something else.
- Cognitive distraction, in which the driver stops concentrating on the task of driving and focuses their thoughts elsewhere.
Using a cell phone, for texting or for another reason, utilizes all three forms of driver distraction. This makes it an extremely risky activity compared to just speaking into a hand-held phone (not to discount the dangers of doing this activity behind the wheel). A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in 2018 found that using a cell phone combined with another distraction — even just conversing with a passenger or singing along with a song on the radio — increases the chance of a deadly crash by nearly 66 percent.
Cell Phones Are Increasingly Cited in Serious Car Accidents
A driver using their cell phone was cited as a factor in more than 800 car accident deaths across the country in 2017. Statistical data on contributing factors in fatal collisions usually underestimated the full scope of factors like driver distraction, mostly because of data collection depends on honest self-reporting on part of drivers when they are asked by specific circumstances of a crash. Self-reported data provided by the NJ Car Insurance Buyers Guide provides a helpful picture of the effect that driver distraction related to cell phone use has on car crash deaths. However, the full scope of the issue is likely much more severe than indicated by these surveys.
It should be stated that any version of driver distraction — meaning any activity that re-directs the driver’s focus, visual attention, or hands away from driving — increases the risk of being involved in a serious car accident. Just a second of inattention could result in a driver to ignore flashing brake lights of a vehicle ahead of them, or the outline of a deer that is about to dart across the road. However, cell phones and other mobile devices are an unnecessary source of distraction for drivers, and many new forms of distraction are automatically available through the app store every day. The old saying “hang up and drive!” may not be as relevant to the current age of cell phone use, but the spirit remains the same.
If you or someone close to has been injured in a serious collision, contact an experienced law firm immediately to discuss your legal options.
New Jersey Texting & Driving Accidents
The hazard of texting while driving has increased exponentially as cell phones and other mobile devices have become more commonplace. Texting behind the wheel is more than just a form of driver distraction. It is also against the law in the state of New Jersey. These injuries injure hundreds of thousands across the United States annually, and teens have been found to be most susceptible to texting behind the wheel.
Statistics show that nearly 9 people are killed each day due to texting and driving accidents. More than 410,000 people are injured in these accidents each year. Texting and driving are serious concerns for New Jersey motorists, and if you are injured in a crash involving a reckless and distracted driver, you should contact an experienced New Jersey car crash attorney immediately.
Brady, Brady, & Reilly, LLC can help you maximize your compensation when pursuing a personal injury claim. We have helped people get back on their feet after a serious crash for decades, and we can use our years of experience to help you with your case. Contact our law offices at (201) 997-0030 if you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver.