Even with Warnings, Cell Phone Auto Accidents on the Rise

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  • Nearly everyone in America keeps a mobile device on their person at all times. Unfortunately, there have been significant, and sometimes deadly, consequences of using a phone or another mobile device while operating a vehicle. Research shows that drivers continue to use cell phones when there are passengers, even young passengers, in the vehicle.

    Distracted Driving Can Kill

    Statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for 2017, reveal that more than 3,100 individuals died, and nearly 400,000 others were injured by distracted driving in the United States that year. The number represents 8.5% of all total fatalities on the road. The individuals that were injured or died in these accidents were part of the more than 480 drivers that use cell phones while driving during daylight hours in the US.

    Driving while using a mobile device can divert the individual's attention to other activities like talking on the phone, sending a text message, or reading emails online. This distraction causes the driver to take their eyes off the roadway. Even a glance at a cell phone while driving the speed limit can cause horrific accidents. In these events, the motorist slams into other vehicles, moves off the roadway, or fails to react to an obstruction ahead.

    Why Cell Phones Are So Dangerous

    Using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle could cause the drive to redirect their focus from the roadway. These three forms of distraction include:

    · Visual distraction where the motorist takes their eyes off the road for a split-second or longer

    · Manual distraction where the driver takes their hands off the wheel to touch their phone

    · Cognitive distraction where the driver redirects their attention and takes their mind off the roadway

    Leading by Example

    It is every parent's responsibility to guide their children by example, by not driving drunk, fatigued or distracted. Mothers and fathers must speak with their young driver about the consequences of driving distracted and the heavy responsibility of driving safely, for everyone on the road. Reminding teenage motorists that violating the state's distracted driving laws could create a consequence. The teen found guilty of distracted driving could include a suspension or delay of their Graduated Driving License (GDL).

    The results of the American Automobile Association poll found that 94% of all teenage drivers said they understood the dangers of texting or talking while driving. Even so, more than one out of every three teens still admitted to using their cell phones while driving anyway.

    In 2016, more than 250 teenagers between 15 and 19 years old died as a result of distracted driving, including cell phone use. Four years earlier, in 2012, a national survey found that 40% (almost half) of all motorists admitted to answering cell phones while operating a vehicle.

    NHTSA Safety Campaign

    Throughout the year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration leads the national fight against driving fatigued or distracted. The campaign educates adults and teenagers about the catastrophic dangers of distracted driving and takes efforts to ensure we stay safe on the roadways.

    The federal agency conducts public service announcements designed to make the case that safe roadways require driving without distraction. The campaign outlines specific laws that affect distracted driving and risky driving behaviors, and how local police are constantly on the lookout for unlawful motorists' behavior.

    Nearly every state in America has legislative laws against speaking on a cell phone, texting while driving and operating a motor vehicle while distracted.

    The Government's Highway Safety Administration has detailed distracted driving laws in many localities in their states that have additional regulations. Some states, counties, and cities restrict hand-held cell phone use as a primary enforcement law. Enforcing the violation of a primary law means that the officer may cite the motorist even if he or she didn't break any other traffic offense.

    Any factor that takes the driver's attention away from the roadway can be identified as a distraction. These factors could include talking on the phone, sending a message, eating, or drinking while driving; even using the radio navigation system can cause deadly consequences to the motorists and passengers. Cell phone use while driving continues to be particularly dangerous, even with the enactment of well-defined laws.

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