We see it every day, don’t we? You’re driving down the interstate at 70 mph, and you look over at the man you’re passing who is busily typing away with his right hand while steering with his left and, occasionally, checking the roadway in front of him. Or, the young woman on the far side of the intersection tapping her iPhone while the light is red, then continuing to tap as the light turns green, and she proceeds, glancing up every few seconds to gauge the traffic.
Texting and driving is fast becoming a major factor in car accident injuries and fatalities. It is one of the most dangerous things drivers can do behind the wheel, because it requires all the same actions as driving. Your eyes are not watching the road, your hands are not on the wheel, and your mind is not fully focused on your primary task: driving.
Texting and Driving May Be More Dangerous than Drunk Driving
One recent small-scale experiment compared the risks caused by texting drivers to those who had been drinking, and the results were shocking. According to this experiment, a handheld cell phone distraction causes a slower reaction time than even being over the legal limit for intoxication.
Car and Driver Magazine tested drivers’ reaction time in hitting their brakes when sober, legally drunk at .08, reading an e-mail, and sending a text. The results are startling:
- Unimpaired: 0.54 seconds to brake
- Legally drunk: Add 4 feet
- Reading email: Add 36 feet
- Sending a text: Add 70 feet
There is no doubt that texting and driving is risky behavior. U.S. Department of Transportation statistics indicate that a driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident when texting and driving than while focusing on the road ahead. Still, the fact that the distraction can reduce reaction time so significantly should be a wake-up call to everyone.
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Texting and Driving Is Illegal in Louisiana
When you see how dangerous texting and driving can be and the risks it creates for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and those in nearby vehicles, it makes you fearful of how prevalent it is and how often you see it occur—and possibly how often you engage in the behavior yourself. What is being done to stop it?
A few years ago, no state had a law against texting and driving. Washington State became the first in 2007. States are fighting back, though. Louisiana is now one of 45 states that has made texting and driving a “primary” offense and 48 that have banned the practice for all drivers.
Those Who Text and Drive May Face Penalties
A primary offense is one that allows an officer to stop and ticket you without witnessing another violation. In other words, if an officer sees you texting and driving, he can ticket you. In Louisiana, your first offense will be a $175 fine and can increase up to $500 thereafter.
In all, 24 states have banned handheld cellphone use outright. There is primary enforcement of this law in all these states. In Louisiana, this law only applies to those with a learner or intermediate license or while in a school zone. There is no universal handheld ban in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Arkansas, but both Tennessee and Georgia have these laws.
Commit to Quit Texting and Driving
Not only could you receive a ticket, but you could cause an accident by texting and driving. You could hurt yourself, a passenger, or someone else. You could even face additional charges such as vehicular manslaughter if you text and drive and cause a fatal crash. The best option is to commit to quit texting and driving and encourage others to do the same.
Keep distracted driving to a minimum by downloading AT&T’s DriveMode App for Android and Blackberry (coming soon to iPhone). When activated, if the vehicle is going 25 mph or faster, the app will automatically send a message stating that you are driving and will respond later. Be smart – commit to quit texting and driving!
What You Should Do if You Were Hurt by a Texting Driver
When an accident occurs because a texting driver failed to stay in their lane, didn’t stop in time, ran a red light, or violated another traffic law, this behavior is considered negligence. Those who suffer injuries can hold the texting driver legally responsible for what happened and pursue money damages.
If this happened to you, get medical treatment for your injuries immediately. Once you are stable and healing, contact a law firm familiar with these cases. They can help you develop a claim and seek compensation for your medical care costs, car repair bills, missed work, pain and suffering, and more.
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The Morris Bart law firm handles distracted driving claims and lawsuits in our four-state service area: Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. We provide free case assessments and represent our clients with no fees up front. We only get paid after the conclusion of your case and only recover attorney’s fees if we get money for you.
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