More than one-quarter of car accidents caused by cellphone use
Last month, the National Safety Council (NSC) released its “Injury Facts” report that it releases every year. This report details safety trends and statistics across the nation. Among the more surprising statistics revealed in the report was the fact that about 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by cellphone use of some sort, including texting while driving or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
Although the media has been ablaze lately with the dangers of texting while driving, the NSC report suggests that it may not be the main culprit in accidents caused by distracted driving. The report found that only five percent of cellphone-related car accidents are caused because the driver was texting, which means that 21 percent of accidents involved a driver talking on a handheld or hands-free cellphone.
Unfortunately, the report indicates that the problem of drivers causing accidents while using cellphones is getting worse, as this percentage is an increase over the previous year. This fact is especially alarming, given the fact that most states have enacted laws restricting cellphone use while behind the wheel. Currently, 43 states have such a law in place. However, despite these laws, there have been about 245,358 car accidents involving cellphone use during the first quarter of 2014, according to the NSC’s website.
Texas law regarding distracted driving
Although the majority of states have passed laws banning cellphone use and/or texting while operating a motor vehicle, Texas is not among them. However, the law in Texas recognizes that teenage drivers are especially prone to distractions as they begin driving, as drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communications devices. Additionally, young drivers with learners’ permits are banned from using handheld cellphones during the first six months of driving.
Despite the lack of a comprehensive statewide ban, some municipalities, such as San Antonio, have passed ordinances banning texting while driving while within city limits.
Damages available for those injured
Even though the law does not ban most drivers from using cellphones while driving, this does not mean that distracted drivers cannot be held liable if they injure someone else. Since the law requires all drivers to operate their vehicles in a manner that does not subject others to an unreasonable risk of harm, drivers that fail to pay attention to the road because they are distracted by a cellphone or other device are considered negligent under the law. Thus, such drivers can be held civilly liable for damages (e.g., medical bills and lost income) if they injure or kill someone because of their negligence.
If an inattentive driver on his or her cellphone has injured you or a loved one, it is wise to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise you on your options and work to ensure that your right to recovery is preserved.