People text and drive because our culture allows for and encourages it. People see others doing it, whether it is family members or other drivers, but they rarely see the consequences of the behavior. Because texting in normal settings is not inherently harmful, many people do not associate texting and driving with danger. However, culture is not the only factor influencing this behavior. A study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications on the impact of iPhone separation on cognition, emotion, and physiology found that smartphone use has become so pervasive that people may experience mental and physical withdrawal symptoms when they cannot use their phones. Some of the physical symptoms include increased heart rates and blood pressure. Ultimately, our brains react to smartphones the way they react to a drug when a person becomes addicted. When we hear the notification that we have a text message, it tells our brain that something pleasurable—or pertinent—awaits us. This anticipation causes our brain to release dopamine, a chemical associated with gratification. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving is now the leading cause of car accidents in the U.S., accounting for 3,166 fatalities in 2017 alone.
Texting and Driving Can Have Deadly Consequences
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports these three types of distractions make texting and driving particularly dangerous:
- Visual: When you take your eyes off the road
- Manual: When you take your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: When the text message has your primary attention, taking your focus off driving
Many drivers who text behind the wheel argue that they only take their eyes off the road for a few seconds. However, if you take your eyes off the road for just five seconds to read or send a text message while driving at 55 miles per hour, you have driven the length of a football field while giving little or no attention to the road, according to the CDC. AT&T conducted a Teen Driver Survey that looked at statistics following an investigation into texting and driving. Their findings reported that drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were at an increased risk of engaging in this risky behavior. Furthermore, 57% of teens who participated in the study reported texting and driving. Considering these statistics, you may not be surprised to find that the CDC reports that nine people are killed in the U.S. every day as a result of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Includes More Than Texting
While texting and driving comprise one of the main forms of distracted driving today, other forms of distraction prove harmful to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians as well. Motorists lose the ability to drive safely when they:
- Eat or drink while driving
- Engage in road rage
- Take their eyes off the road to change the radio
- Put on makeup while driving
- Turn to look at passengers
- Talk to someone on the phone
- Focus on a GPS app to try to navigate
Although many states have laws in place that put restrictions on phone usage while driving, the above forms of distracted driving are usually not regulated. However, if a driver causes a car accident as a result of these behaviors, investigators may find them liable for the damages and injuries that may follow. A total of 48 states, including the District of Columbia, have banned texting while driving. If a driver in any of these states is found to have caused an accident due to this type of negligence, additional penalties and fines may apply.
Our Team May Help You Recover Compensation Following a Car Accident
If you or someone you love has been hurt or killed in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses. You may be able to seek financial recovery for:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Cost of ongoing physical therapy
- Damage to your vehicle
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death
Our team at Morris Bart, LLC wants to explain your rights and help you understand your legal options. We may investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident and negotiate for fair compensation. We believe the person at fault for your injuries should pay for your damages, not you. We aim for you to suffer no further harm as a result of your accident. Our staff can review the details of your claim and may help you strategize a plan in moving forward. For more information about what we can do for you, call us today at 1-800-537-8185.