The Law Firm of Leisawitz Heller

Cell phones growing contributor to distracted driving

It is hard -- if not impossible -- to imagine a life without smartphones. You probably use your phone for far more than just making and receiving phone calls, such as accessing social media, tracking your daily calories or recording your exercise. Since you are a safe driver, you never do these types of activities behind the wheel, but what about everyone else in Pennsylvania? As it turns out, distracted driving is on the rise.

Doing anything that takes a driver's attention away from the road is considered distracted driving. This includes things like fiddling with the radio, speaking with passengers and, yes, manipulating cell phones.

Distracted driving is deadly

In 2017, cell phone use behind the wheel caused over 800 deaths in the United States. That same year, there were 3,166 distraction-related fatalities. Although it might appear as if drivers using cell phones accounted for only a small portion of accidents, you should still be concerned. The risk of drivers causing fatal accidents while using cell phones is 66 percent higher than if they were simply paying attention to the task at hand.

It is also possible that these numbers vastly underrepresent the actual percentage of distracted accidents. This is largely due to the difficult nature of determining a person's cell phone use just before a wreck. Many negligent drivers withhold this type of information from law enforcement officials, so there is a fair chance that the cell phones play a much larger role in accidents than current data shows.

The problem is getting worse

At this point in time, it is hard to imagine that there could still be drivers who do not understand the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. Despite this, drivers appear to be using phones much more frequently than in the past. How they are using these phones behind the wheel is also changing.

In one study, researchers observed passing drivers in another state. In particular, they were looking for drivers' cell phone habits. Compared to a similar 2014 study, drivers were nearly 60 percent more likely to physically manipulate a phone while driving. This means drivers were increasingly scrolling through phones or looking at screens. However, this same survey revealed that drivers were increasingly using hands-free technology to carry on phone conversations.

What about other forms of distracted driving?

The same survey found that drivers frequently engaged in other behaviors that took their attention off the road. Researchers observed drivers eating, drinking, singing along to music, grooming themselves, smoking and even reading printed materials. Even the most experienced driver should not attempt any of these behaviors behind the wheel because the ultimate result is still the same -- his or her attention is drawn away from the road.

Suffering an injury because of a distracted driver's negligence can be extremely frustrating. Most likely, you are dealing with expensive medical bills, which might be complicated by lost wages if you had to take time off for your recovery. If you need help addressing these and other related damages from your distracted driving accident, an experienced attorney can help explain your options for pursuing a personal injury suit in Pennsylvania.

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