Why Do Safety Groups Object to Motorists Using Cell Phones While Driving?

Using a cell phone while driving may seem relatively harmless compared to speeding or the dangers of drunk driving. However, research from several of the nation’s most prestigious safety groups shows that isn’t the case.

Cell phone use while driving results in thousands of car accidents, personal injuries, and wrongful deaths each year in the United States. Motorists who were seriously injured in cell phone-related distracted driving accidents often face a number of unexpected medical, emotional, and financial challenges. Fortunately, Sevenish Law can help accident victims understand their rights and explore legal options.

Cell Phone-Related Distracted Driving Statistics

So, just how dangerous is using a cell phone while driving? The answer might surprise you. Consider the following statistics:

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 391,000 people were injured and 3,477 were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015, many involving cell phones.
  • During daylight hours, at any given time, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones (NHTSA).
  • Cell phone use behind the wheel leads to approximately 1.6 million accidents each year, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
  • More than one in four motor vehicle accidents are caused by cell phone use (NSC).
  • Combining all three major forms of distraction—visual, manual. and cognitive—texting is considered one of the most dangerous distracted driving behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • When driving at 55 mph, the average time it takes to check or send a text message is long enough to travel the length of a football field (CDC).
  • In a 2011 CDC survey, 69 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving.
  • A University of Utah study found that texting drivers were nearly six times more likely to get in an accident than drivers who weren’t distracted.

Additionally, safety group statistics show that members of some demographics are more likely to use a cell phone while driving than others. For example:

  • According to the NHTSA, cell phone use behind the wheel is highest among drivers ages 16 to 24.
  • Approximately 10 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 involved in fatal crashes were said to have been distracted at the time of the accident (NHTSA).
  • Nearly 42 percent of high school students responding to the CDC’s 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey reported texting or emailing while driving at least once in the past month.

As frightening as these statistics are, the National Safety Council warns that they may be just the tip of the iceberg, as many drivers involved in accidents aren’t forthcoming about their cell phone use, or may be seriously injured or deceased. Inaccurate witness statements, difficulty obtaining the cell phone records of crash victims, and the lack of a breathalyzer-type test to prove cell phone use may make it even harder to accurately assess the threat posed by people who use a cell phone behind the wheel.

Distractions and the Multi-Tasking Brain

Despite the clear dangers associated with using a cell phone while driving, many motorists continue this unsafe practice—in part because they’re confident in their ability to multi-task. Unfortunately, our brains are not capable of handling multiple tasks at once. Instead, when we think we’re “multi-tasking” our brains are rapidly switching between tasks, which is incredibly risky behavior on the road.

Another common misconception is that hands-free cell phones are safer than their hand-held counterparts. Years of research shows that hands-free cell phones are just as distracting as traditional cell phones, and using them behind the wheel is just as dangerous.

Were You Injured in an Accident?

It can be difficult to conclusively attribute an accident to another driver’s use of a cell phone. If you were injured in an accident caused by a motorist who was texting or talking on their phone at the time of the crash, you need the representation of an attorney who has experience handling these types of cases. Sevenish Law can provide you with the honorable, yet aggressive, representation you deserve. Call us today at 800.278.9200 or contact us online for your free initial consultation.