It’s one of the most obvious signs of modern life—the cell phone. Whether you have a standard feature phone that just makes calls and texts with a dial, or a fully-featured smartphone, most people are never without one close at hand.
The downside is that people love using their phone while driving car. From making and answering phone calls to checking emails, texts and social media, many people find it irresistible. But distracted driving by a cell phone greatly increases your chance of an accident.
More people are texting, streaming radio and video, reading, and checking email instead of paying attention and keeping control of their vehicle. In fact, phone distractions while driving are eight times more dangerous than a drunk driver, whether you’re holding a phone conversation or using your phone for something else.
The result: more car crashes caused by cell phone usage by distracted drivers.
Talking on a cell phone, like a number of other things, can be extremely distracting while operating a motor vehicle of any size. Whether you’re driving a car or enjoying the use of Durham’s newly available Shared Active Transportation (also called e-scooters), it’s important to keep your attention focused on the motor vehicle operation. Distractions such as a cell phone mentally take your attention away from driving, even if your hands are firmly on the wheel.
Eating, drinking coffee, changing radio stations and other small tasks can still distract you from driving. But talking on a cell phone is more of a distraction because of the mental attention it takes to have a conversation and stay on the road.
Texting is particularly dangerous. In order to text, that means you’re taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds. By then, you’ve traveled the length of an entire football field at 55 mph without looking at where you’re headed.
From 2011 to 2016, the state of North Carolina saw a ten percent increase in crashes related to distracted driving.
The NC Governor’s Highway Safety Plan for FY2018 reports that from 2011 through 2016, 356 fatalities of drivers and passengers statewide were caused by distracted driving.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nationwide, distracted drivers were responsible for 2,841 car-crash fatalities in 2018, and that 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone on the phone. Statewide, distracted drivers caused 25,000 injuries and 152 deaths.
Insurance comparison site The Zebra recently surveyed 1,000 individuals about their thoughts and behaviors related to cell phone use and driving. They found that drivers aged 20-29 are the most likely to report their use of a cell phone while driving.
Among drivers, the site report that:
The Zebra also found that insurance rates after being ticketed for cell phone use while driving raises your insurance rates an average of 23%. In North Carolina, your insurance rate increases nearly 35%, or about $332.43.
If you are stopped for texting and driving, you’ll be cited with a non-moving violation that leads to a minor infraction and adds no points on your driver’s license. However, if your texting while driving is responsible for a car accident, you may have additional charges such as reckless driving, as well as other charges if anyone is injured or killed.
Twenty one states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico prohibit the use of handheld cell phones, and 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.
It seems like a good idea, but it’s not without risks.
The National Safety Council’s infographic shows that although you can use a hands-free device, it’s not completely without risks. Even with a hands-free device, a driver’s field of view shrinks in order to pay attention to the phone, reducing their field of vision by as much as 50%.
Setting and forgetting your phone may seem like the ideal way to prevent a car accident, but it isn’t. Even with the phone out of the way, your attention is still split between the road and the phone, giving only half to driving safely.
Accident With Someone Who Was Driving With A Cell Phone? Call Clauson Law
Even though cell phone use is responsible for thousands of accidents every year, people still use them behind the wheel.
If you’ve been in an accident with someone who was talking or texting, we can help.
Want more information before you decide to call? Download our free e-book about accidents.
Types of Car Accidents