Are Distracted Driving Accidents In Texas Increasing With Cell Phone Usage?
Cell phone usage is believed to be a contributing factor in the rise of automobile accidents, in Texas and throughout the country. Numerous studies support that conclusion, given that electronic devices inherently require a portion of your attention.
The problem is that safe driving requires 100% of the driver’s attention. Anything that competes with that attention will increase the likelihood of a car accident, whether with another vehicle, with a structure of some sort, or with a pedestrian. Under those circumstances, one or more of the parties involved may then need the services of a car accident lawyer in Dallas.
Cell Phones & Driving: Bad Combination
From a driving perspective, the issue with modern cell phones is that they are seemingly designed for close and sustained usage. Rather than simply accepting an incoming call or making one of your own (neither of which is advisable in the absence of a handsfree setup), mobile technology allows for, among other things:
- Text Messaging
- Video Capture/Viewing
- Social Media Interaction
These applications (or apps), along with many others, essentially transform cell phones into digital portals. This is often innocent in nature, as such devices also offer directions assistance (Google Maps, for instance). A driver may have been doing nothing more than peering down for too long a time while studying a city-street layout before causing an accident. Unfortunately, these moments can lead to serious injury, wrongful death and/or serious property damage.
The Inherent Dangers of Driving
It’s such a ubiquitous aspect of daily life, driving, that breaking it down to its chief purpose seems rudimentary. But some things bear reminding, particularly where safety is concerned. Driving is as much a privilege as it is a right, and a few of its properties should be routinely acknowledged by drivers:
- Automobiles are heavy.
- Automobiles are designed to move at high speeds.
- Automobile safety features are far from infallible.
- Safe automobile operation depends on driver attention.
You won’t see many bicyclists and pedestrians applying for cycling and walking licenses. Those are regarded as low-risk activities, presenting minimal potential for harm to oneself or others.
As mentioned above, cars are heavy and can move quickly. Operating even the smallest, slowest automobile carries with it the potential for causing considerable, often life-threatening damage. Drivers must be trained (typically by a high school math teacher) and their skills evaluated before a license to drive will be legally provided. That license itself is subject to suspension or revocation if a driver repeatedly proves him/herself irresponsible behind the wheel. The right to walk, however, is essentially untouchable…even if the pedestrian is given to walking while texting.
Driving while texting, however, is another matter entirely.
The Reality of Cell Phone Usage
Endless studies, reports, and daily observations support the notion that Americans (and Texans by extension) are increasingly addicted to their cell phones and other mobile devices. The problem is ballooning into something almost epidemic. Placing aside the cultural harm caused by that phenomenon, it also presents a very real threat to safe driving.
Historical threats to responsible driving have included:
- Driving Under Influence of Alcohol
- Driving Under Influence of Drugs
- Road Rage
- Eating, applying makeup, or otherwise ignoring the road while driving
These remain a source of many automobile accidents each year, but public awareness campaigns combined with legislative measures have been implemented in an effort to positively influence driver behavior. The Texas Department of Transportation provides clear ordinances pertinent to the matter.
But cell phone usage presents a new challenge entirely. Drivers are frequently compelled to ignore their primary responsibility by the “need” to send a message, read an incoming one, capture a photograph, et cetera. That temptation is difficult to ignore and has led to many traffic accidents in Texas and elsewhere.
We are these days tethered to our personal and professional networks to an unprecedented degree. Unfortunately, that aspect of modern cell phone technology has seen licensed drivers parting ways with safe driving behavior(s).
Driving Safety Recommendations
Handsfree mobile technology has been available for years. Many new(er) vehicles feature Bluetooth capability, which allows drivers to speak via cell phone without needing to engage with the phone itself. Ensuring your own phone is linked with any such handsfree tool is advisable and may dramatically reduce your likelihood of causing an accident due to distraction.
A few more safe driving recommendations include:
- Refraining from checking incoming text/social media messages while driving.
- Resisting the urge to take or share photographs while driving.
- Using a map application only if your phone is affixed to dashboard or rearview mirror; if you are required to hold the phone, use of the application might be too dangerous.
Put simply, cell phone usage requires more attention than a driver can spare. Restrict it entirely, particularly any actions that remove hands from the wheel and eyes from your surrounding area.
Seek Compensation For An Accident Caused by Cell Phone Use
There’s no question about it: Drivers who use their cell phones while on the road are more likely to cause an accident than those who do not. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may need knowledgeable legal counsel.
Contact our Dallas car accident lawyers and let us help you understand your situation as the law sees it. The laws surrounding this matter are subject to change and have evolved substantially in recent years. Texas lawmakers take the problem seriously, as they should, but they also prioritize individual rights. We can provide you with clarity on both. Contact us today.