Crashes involving distracted driving account for approximately 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,450 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes in 2016. In 2017, the number of distraction-related fatalities decreased to 3,166. The use of cell phones and other electronic devices poses significant risks of injury and death on roads across the United States.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs when drivers divert their attention from driving to some other type of activity. Cell phone use and texting present significant distractions to many drivers, but other activities such as eating and drinking, talking to other passengers, adjusting the radio and setting a vehicle’s navigation system constitute distracted driving as well.
Teenage drivers (ages 15-19) are responsible for a significant percentage of crashes involving distracted drivers in America. According to the NHSTA, 263 teens were killed in fatal crashes involving distracted driving, accounting for 10 percent of all distracted driving-related fatalities. Likewise, 339 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted teen driver in 2016. Over half (51 percent) of those killed were teens aged 15 to 19 years old.
Cell Phone Use and Distracted Driving
Cell phone use, particularly texting, has become common in our society today. Unfortunately, many people use their cell phones while they are driving. As a result, there has been an enormous amount of attention and concern placed on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.
From 2012 to 2015, an average of 31,000 people was estimated to have been injured in distraction-affected crashes. In addition, distraction-affected crashes accounted for 9 percent of all fatal crashes in 2016, and according to the NHTSA, 444 of those fatal crashes were reported to have involved cell phone use, resulting in 486 fatalities.
Laws Involving Distracted Driving
Laws involving distracted driving are regulated at the state level, and many states have laws against distracted driving, including the restricted use of cell phones and other electronic devices.
In Arkansas, it is illegal to text and drive. Cell phone use is prohibited for teens under the age of 18, and if you are between the ages of 18 and 21, you can use a hands-free device to talk on a cell phone. It is legal for drivers over the age of 21 to talk on their cell phone while driving. In addition to these laws, Arkansas law prohibits all forms of cell phone usage in school zones where children are present and in highway work zones where workers are present.
What Should I Do If I’m Injured or Hurt in an Accident Involving a Distracted Driver?
Like any accident resulting in injury, you should first call 911 if you are involved in an accident involving a distracted driver. If you are seriously injured or unable to use a phone, have someone else make the call. When police and emergency responders arrive, tell them about any symptoms you are experiencing. Not all injuries are obvious, and it is important that you do not refuse medical treatment at the scene of the accident or at the hospital.
In most cases, police working the accident will gather the appropriate information between drivers. If able, be sure to collect any and all contact information, vehicle information, insurance company information, and information for all witnesses. It can be especially helpful if you are able to take photographs or video of the scene of the accident.
Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you will need to notify your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. More than likely, you will be contacted by a claims adjuster with the other driver’s insurance company in order to investigate and negotiate the accident claim.
If you are unable to negotiate the settlement on your own, or if you experience complicated injuries (head injuries, broken bones, scarring and internal bleeding), you may need to contact an attorney with experience handling car accident injury cases.