How Cell Phone Use Has Impacted the Rate of Auto Accidents?
How Cell Phone Use Has Impacted the Rate of Auto Accidents? | The Personal Injury Blog
Cell phones have ballooned in popularity over the last decade. Not surprisingly, so have concerns regarding distracted driving and the role that these ubiquitous electronic devices may have in causing a variety of motor vehicle-related accidents. A significant body of research – conducted under both experimental and on-the-road conditions – has demonstrated that using either hand-held cell phones or hands-free cell phone devices can lead to driving practices that can undermine safe driving. Unfortunately, the extent to which cell phone use while driving increases the risk of accidents has been difficult to determine, due in part to the fact that police crash reports are not reliable indicators of whether or not drivers were using a cell phone at the time a crash occurred.
Nevertheless, a number of important studies have demonstrated that operating a cell phone while driving significantly increases the risk of a crash. A study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of experiencing a collision while actively using a cell phone was four times higher than the risk when a phone was not actively being used. A more recent study published in the British Medical Journal also reached similar conclusions, demonstrating a four-fold increase in the risk of a crash when cell phones were used within the 10 minutes prior to a crash occurring. According to recent statistics published by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), 13.5 million drivers are simultaneously using cell phones at any given time during daylight hours. In addition, the NTSB documented that close to 3,100 roadway fatalities in 2010 involved distracted drivers. The National Safety Council estimated that 23% (1.3 million) of all crashes that occurred involved the use of cell phones.
Citing the epidemic magnitude of cell phone use while driving, legislators on both the federal and state levels have worked tirelessly for many years to pass bans on cell phone use while driving. 25 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving. No state bans all cellphone use for all drivers, but 36 states and D.C. ban all cellphone use by novice or teen drivers, and 18 states and D.C. prohibit any cellphone use for school bus drivers.
Bans on texting while driving have also soared as text messaging has become a more widely used method of communicating via cell phone. In fact, 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.
Missouri prohibits text messaging by drivers 21 years old or younger. In late 2011, the NTSB publicly recommended a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving. In doing so, however, the NTSB cautioned that such bans will not entirely solve the epidemic problem of cell phone use while driving, and emphasized that educational campaigns and strict enforcement would also be required to achieve success.
Despite increasing efforts by municipal, state, and federal governments to implement bans related to the use of cell phones in automobiles, recent evaluations of the impact of such bans on the rates of automobile accidents have produced conflicting findings. A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found no reductions in crashes following the implementation of hand-held phone bans. For the purposes of that study, researchers compared insurance claims for crash-related damage in New York, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, and California in the months prior to and after bans took effect. They found that claim rates remained steady when compared to nearby jurisdictions that did not have similar bans. On the other hand, some researchers have found evidence to support the effectiveness of cell phone bans while driving. A study conducted in New York found that following the enactment of a statewide usage-ban law, 46 New York counties experienced a decrease in rates of fatal accidents, 10 of which were statistically significant. Furthermore, this study also found that all 62 counties in New York experienced lower personal injury accident rates following the implementation of the bans.
Adding further controversy to the issue surrounding the effectiveness of talking-while-driving bans are the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The results of this study found that even when they are not using their cell phones, individuals who are prone to use their cell phones while driving are more likely to drive aggressively, drive at faster speeds, and change lanes frequently, in addition to accelerating and braking more rapidly than drivers who refrain from cell phone use in their car.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an auto accident a personal injury attorney can be instrumental in ensuring that the interests of the injured party are served, and that appropriate compensation is received. Personal injury attorneys can work to obtain relevant corporate and government inspection records needed to help determine liability, assist with connecting injured clients with appropriate and highly qualified medical specialists, and even reconstruct the auto accident using high-technology methods. In doing so, auto accident attorneys can help their clients identify every individual and/or company that is liable, and give their clients the greatest chance to recover appropriate damages for their injuries.
January 13, 2021