Texting and Driving.
Everything You Need to Know about Texting and Driving
Chances are, if you been in a vehicle on the road in the last week, you’ve probably seen someone distracted while driving. Distractions in a vehicle are many — a driver could be adjusting the stereo, putting on makeup, or of course, sending a text message. In Utah, 93% of crashes are caused by human behavior and error. As far as distracted driving goes, the most accidents occur because a driver was chatting with a passenger, or because he or she was texting while driving. As mobile devices become ubiquitous, so does the temptation to check messages, emails, and apps, even while driving. It’s a big problem, but it’s not one we can’t solve.
And so, the goal of this guide isn’t simply to look at the issues surrounding texting and driving, but to offer meaningful conclusions about how you can do your part to curb this dangerous behavior.
But before we get to that, we need to look at what types of behaviors actually qualify as distracted driving. There are many things that fall in the distracted driving category, and some of them are probably activities you engage in regularly, even though they’re more dangerous than they might seem.
Chapter 1: The Problem
Are You Guilty? Hidden Behaviors of Distracted Driving
You know the symptoms: Texting and driving. Steering with one hand and a cigarette/soda/hamburger in the other. Snapchatting. These are all examples of distracted driving; however, what if we told you that there was a whole other group of behaviors that qualify as distracted driving — even behaviors you didn’t realize you do every day?
From interacting with a toddler in the backseat to searching for the last French fry in the bag on your afternoon commute home from Farmington, Utah, here are some hidden driving distractions known to cause an auto accident for even the most savvy drivers. Knowledge is power — you won’t need a lawyer if you’re aware of some of the not-so-obvious distracted driving dangers.
Glancing Away for the Right — or Wrong — Reasons
Technically, any time your attention is diverted from the road while driving qualifies as distracted driving. However, when your attention is diverted from the road for seemingly innocent things — such as glancing over to make sure that your teenager is buckled in — it might not seem like such a large threat. But don’t be fooled; even though your actions don’t seem like they might cause an auto accident, a lawyer will think differently when you rear end someone in a school zone or cause a pileup driving to soccer practice in Farmington.
Our advice? Make sure the occupants of your car are buckled in safely before you leave the driveway (or that your toddler has everything he/she needs); by doing this, you’ll spend less time glancing in the backseat and more time with your eyes on the road.
Distracted Driving Is a Growing Issue
Distracted driving is a multifaceted issue with serious — and sometimes deadly — consequences. Avoiding an auto accident means avoiding higher insurance rates, lawyer fees, medical expenses and possible jail time. Don’t become the cause of the pileup on your morning commute to Farmington; keep your eyes on the road and you should arrive safely, sans injury.
What is texting and driving?
Why Texting and Driving Isn’t Just About Texting
When you think of the phrase “texting and driving,” what comes to mind? Do you envision a car full of teenagers driving at 90 mph down the I-15 outside Salt Lake City, carelessly trading text messages with a group of friends driving behind them? Or do you immediately imagine an auto accident involving several cars, with the driver responsible frantically calling his or her lawyer?
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but texting and driving isn’t just limited to texting, and it’s not just limited to teenagers — it’s a multi-generational issue that affects nearly every demographic, from elderly drivers in Salt Lake City to soccer moms in the Midwest.
Emailing, Checking Facebook Still Considered Texting
You don’t have to be carrying on a full-blown conversation via text to be guilty of texting and driving; on the contrary, answering email, checking your phone’s notifications, choosing a Spotify playlist and checking Facebook all fall under the umbrella term of texting and driving.
You might counter this statement with a popular argument: I only text/check messages/answer emails when I’m at a red light and fully stopped. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you’re cruising down Main Street in Salt Lake City at 40 mph or at a complete stop at an intersection; an auto accident lawyer will view texting and driving, as the same under any circumstance.
Is Voice-to-Text Considered Texting?
What about using voice-to-text while driving? That’s safer, right? Unfortunately, no — it’s still considered texting and driving. It doesn’t matter how you go about sending a text or email; in reality, you’re allowing yourself to become distracted from the road, which is like playing Russian Roulette with a potential auto accident.
Your texts, social media accounts and emails can wait — if it’s truly necessary, pull over. Your next text might be to a lawyer if you continue to text and drive — no matter what the situation.
Chapter 2: The Culprits
Which age groups and demographics are most guilty of texting and driving?
The Surprising Demographic Most Guilty of Texting and Driving
Recent research indicates that older, wealthier men — typically those with a college degree — are the most likely to text and drive. Statistically, this demographic is 10 percent more likely to text and drive than women of the same age. This might correlate directly to the middle-aged man’s increased rates of risky driving and higher auto accident rates.
The Danger of the “Safety Net”
What’s propelling wealthier, middle-aged men to use their cell phones while driving? Social pressure is a major motivator of texting and driving for wealthier men. Interestingly, men who made more than $100,000 a year demonstrated the highest rates of texting and driving; researchers speculate that many men in this demographic find that the “safety net” of a higher income (and accessibility of a lawyer) influenced these men’s decision to text and drive. On the flip side, men who were in the lowest income bracket were the least likely to cause an auto accident while texting and driving.
Education Is the Solution
While most men in this demographic admitted that they believed that texting and driving was indeed dangerous — and likely to result in an auto accident — there was a small percentage of men who disagreed with this statement. Unfortunately, laws and legislation aren’t enough to prevent either the people of Salt Lake City or the Midwest from texting and driving; sometimes it takes the intervention of a lawyer to convince people to quit texting while driving.
At Robert J. DeBry & Associates, we believe that staying safe on the road should be a top priority — which is why we believe that safety starts with education. So no matter how long your commute is from Salt Lake City to Provo, avoid a costly call to a lawyer and simply put down the phone while driving.
What does law enforcement say about texting and driving?
Texting and Driving: From a Cop’s Perspective
Texting and driving is illegal in 46 different states and three territories. Law enforcement officials from the East Coast to Farmington, Utah have a difficult time catching repeat offenders. If you do get into an auto accident due to texting and driving, however, not even the best lawyer can help you walk away without a fine.
Primary Enforcement Laws
Of the 46 states where texting and driving is illegal, all but five have primary enforcement laws for texting and driving. This means that police officers can legally pull drivers over and issue a citation for texting, even if the driver is committing no other traffic infractions.
However, it can be difficult for law enforcement officials to determine if someone is texting and driving or merely typing in a phone number. In areas such as Farmington where cell phone use while driving is legal for some demographics but texting is illegal for everyone, cops have a hard time differentiating between normal cell phone use and texting.
How Many Taps?
Punching in a phone number takes a maximum of 10 taps of the finger. Any more than 10 and you’re wandering into suspicious territory. For law enforcement officials from Farmington to the Northwest, excessive cell phone tapping could be grounds for arrest, so make sure to keep your lawyer on speed dial.
From the perspective of law enforcement, texting or surfing the Internet even while stopped at red light is grounds for arrest. After all, texting while your car is not in motion might seem ok, but what happens when the light turns green? Your innocent texting could easily turn into an auto accident situation.
Put the Phone Away
At the end of the day, the purpose of law enforcement officials is to serve and protect the public to the best of their ability, not to fight with you and your lawyer in traffic court. Texting and driving is dangerous, and has high potential to cause a multi-vehicle auto accident. For the safety of everyone, put the phone away — don’t text and drive.
Chapter 3: The Accidents
What types of accidents are most likely to occur because of texting and driving?
What Types of Crashes Are Caused by Texting & Driving?
Using your cell phone while driving makes you a whopping 23 percent more likely to get into an auto accident, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — and more than a quarter of all car accidents in the United States involve the use of cell phones.
Any auto accident lawyer will tell you that cell phone use — including texting and driving — has a marked effect on crash statistics from the East Coast to Salt Lake City. However, what kinds of accidents are most likely to involve texting and driving?
Texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds at a time — that’s plenty of time not to notice the car in front of you suddenly braking for a right-turn or a pedestrian. Many motorists admit to texting while stopped at a red light, but what happens when the light suddenly turns green? For all too many drivers, the time it takes to finish that text message is just enough time to rear-end that car in front of you.
In addition, texting while driving slows your brake reaction speed by 18 percent, meaning you are significantly less likely to avoid a sudden obstacle in your path — whether that is a pedestrian, an animal or another driver. According to a study from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, the reaction time of a teen using a cell phone is comparable to that of your average 70-year-old behind the wheel — so avoid that call to your lawyer and keep your eyes on the road.
Motorists who text while driving spend a significant amount of time looking away from the road — which isn’t exactly conducive to driving in a straight line. Teenagers who text while driving spend approximately 10 percent of their time driving outside of their own lane, which makes them a hazard to drivers traveling in the lane next to them.
“Failure to Keep in Proper Lane” is an all-too-common common citation on police auto accident reports from Salt Lake City to the Midwest. Avoid a nasty sideswipe and a call to your lawyer and keep your phone in your pocket where it belongs.
While texting and driving most commonly results in relatively minor auto accident injuries, on average 11 teenagers die every day due to texting and driving accidents. From Salt Lake City to the Atlantic, texting and driving kills — so listen to your local lawyer and put your phone away.
What are the fatality and injury stats around texting and driving incidents?
Texting and Driving: Accident & Injury Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18–64 admit to texting or emailing while driving within the past 30 days. While taking a second to check that email or text message might seem innocuous, texting while driving is a major contributor to auto accident injuries and fatalities around the nation.
Whether you’re driving back home to Provo, Utah or just taking a quick trip to meet your lawyer friend at his favorite restaurant, you can wait to send a text until you are no longer behind the wheel. If not, it could cost you your life — or someone else’s.
The following are the most recent statistics regarding texting and driving accidents, injuries and fatalities — from Provo to the East Coast.
Cell Phone Accident & Injury Statistics
- 1 out of 4 car accidents in the U.S. involve using a cell phone while driving.
- Cell phone use while driving causes 1.6 million accidents every year.
- Using a cell phone while driving is responsible for 330,000 injuries every year.
- Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause a crash than drunk driving.
- Using a cell phone while driving makes you 23x more likely to get into an auto accident.
- Texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds.
- Texting and driving increases the time your eyes are off the road by 400%.
- In 2014, 431,000 people were injured due to distracted drivers.
Cell Phone Fatality Statistics
- 11 teens die every day from crashes that involved using a cell phone while driving.
- 15% of drivers ages 15–19 involved in fatal crashes in 2013 were distracted by cell phones at the time of the crash.
- On average 6,000 people die from cell phone-related crashes every year.
- 21% of teenagers involved in fatal crashes were using their cell phones at the time of the accident.
- In 2014, 3,179 people were killed due to distracted driving.
- Drivers in their 20s make up 38% of distracted drivers who were using their cell phones in fatal accidents.
If you or a family member has been injured due to texting and driving, contact a lawyer at the offices of Robert J. DeBry & Associates for your free quote. Our lawyer teams are on call to assist clients from Provo to St. George with their auto accident cases.
An auto accident due to texting and driving is a serious issue. Whether you live in Provo or elsewhere in Utah, contact a lawyer at Robert J. DeBry & Associates today and get a head start on your case.
Chapter 4: The Consequences
The Emotional Consequences of Texting and Driving
Choosing to text and drive has serious consequences. The most serious of these consequences is undoubtedly when the choice to text and drive results in an auto accident that causes the injury or death of the driver or another human being.
Maybe a lawyer is simply driving from his or her home to the local grocery store in Farmington, Utah. Choosing to text and drive can turn that simple shopping trip in Farmington into a tragic auto accident. Injury and death caused by texting and driving can dramatically change the lives of drivers, victims and their loved ones. Accidental injury and death leaves a myriad of emotional struggles for all involved.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
After being involved in a traumatic event like an auto accident, it is not uncommon to suffer from a degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Emotional symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares, over-intense physical reactions like being jumpy and startling easily, hypervigilance like constantly re-checking to see if you locked the front door and increased emotional mood swings ranging from anxiety and fear to anger. PTSD can affect individuals directly involved in a texting and driving accident as well as witnesses, emergency workers and friends or family members.
Stages of Grief
The grieving process is often separated out into five stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are not necessarily chronological, and the grieving process is unique to the individual. However, those touched in any way by an unexpected tragic event are prone to experience these stages in some form. A lawyer sitting at home in Farmington with his or her family who hears about a co-worker hitting a pedestrian while texting and driving will experience some of these stages, maybe in a matter of minutes. The family of the victim might experience these stages over a matter of years.
Those who survive a traumatic event are prone to experience survivor’s guilt. This is the feeling that they have done wrong by surviving when others did not. These feelings of guilt are heightened when the individual is responsible for creating the situation, like if that Farmington lawyer on the way to the grocery store chose to text while driving and caused an auto accident. Asking “Why?” or “What if?” fuels this feeling of guilt.
Prevent the Pain
By choosing not to text and drive, you can protect yourself, your loved ones and your fellow human from unnecessary emotional torment. The next time you find yourself driving to the grocery store like our hypothetical lawyer, choose to ignore the phone when it buzzes. Choose to be safe. Choose to prevent the pain.
The Financial Costs of Texting and Driving
While the results of an auto accident caused by texting and driving can emotionally affect the individuals involved, the aftermath of a texting and driving auto accident can also have dramatic financial consequences.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving costs the United States $175 billion a year. That’s an average of $148 per United States citizen. Additionally, the National Safety Council calculates that $43 billion of that amount comes from costs of crashes caused by cell phone use alone.
Traffic fines for texting and driving vary from state to state. Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and South Carolina are the only four states in the U.S. that don’t have bans or penalties for texting and driving. Alaska has the largest penalty for those who text and drive, coming in at $10,000 and a year in prison for first time offenders. California has the smallest fine at $20 per offense.
Drivers in Provo, Utah and throughout the rest of the Beehive state can expect to pay a $750 fine and serve up to three months in jail on a misdemeanor charge for texting and driving. If these same Provo drivers cause an auto accident while texting and driving that results in injury or death, they could be looking at a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison serving a felony charge.
If your auto accident calls for a trip to court, you’ll find yourself in need of a good lawyer. A Provo driver facing a felony charge could expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 for an experienced lawyer. Additional trial fees of anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars could be added to that total depending on the lawyer.
If you live in a state where texting and driving is considered a moving violation, your lapse of judgment could be the cause of points added to your driving record. These points add up to the possibility of a suspended license and a higher insurance premium.
Chapter 5: The Solution
What the solution to texting and driving isn’t (hands free texting, talking on the phone, etc.)
Are You Swapping One Distraction for Another While Driving?
The risks associated with texting and driving are fairly self-explanatory; any time you remove your eyes from the road to read or send a text message, you put yourself, the occupants of your car and other cars on the road to St. George at risk for an auto accident. On average, 13 percent of drivers between the age of 18 and 20 get into an auto accident while texting and driving — and 34 percent admit they frequently text while driving.
The moral of the story seems obvious: Don’t text and drive. This is difficult for people who rely on their mobile device for communication — so what’s the solution? Although there might not be a straightforward answer to this dilemma, here’s what any lawyer will tell you is definitely not the solution.
Why Voice-to-Text Is Dangerous
Recent research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that people who used voice-to-text features while driving experience tunnel vision and what they named “inattention blindness.” Inattention blindness occurs when drivers literally do not see what’s directly in front of them, because they’re 100 percent cognitively distracted.
We get it — it’s tempting to stay in communication with your significant other via voice-to-text as you’re driving back from a trip through St. George, Utah or touch base with your lawyer concerning a recent legal issue. But voice-to-text isn’t a solution to texting and driving, and can be just as dangerous.
What About Talking — Instead of Texting?
So you’ve stopped texting and driving — great. Instead, you simply pick up the phone and call someone instead of sending him a brief text. This is good, right? We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but no. Talking on the phone instead of texting can also cause an auto accident. We know that you’re bored as you drive through the deserts of St. George or anxious as you await a call from your lawyer. We know it sounds old-fashioned, but if you need to talk/text/connect, pull over. Don’t replace one distraction for another — no matter how experienced a driver you are.
A Three-Step Solution to Texting and Driving
You might already be familiar with the bad alternative to texting and driving: voice-to-text and simply talking on the phone. But on the other hand, we also get that sometimes you have to communicate while you’re traveling, whether it’s coordinating who will pick up the kids from soccer practice in Farmington, Utah or deciding where to go to dinner in downtown Salt Lake. Whatever the case, there’s a safe way to communicate while driving that won’t cause an auto accident.
Step One: Set Personal Boundaries
A great way to become “phone free” while driving is to set firm boundaries — not only with yourself. but also with the people you communicate with the most. If family members, friends or anyone — even your lawyer — know that you don’t reply to texts/messages/calls while you’re driving, they’ll be less likely to pursue communication with you while you’re coming home from Farmington or headed for a weekend trip in southern Utah. The first step to reducing your risk for a text-related auto accident is setting firm boundaries.
Step Two: Take a Pledge
Sometimes, however, it’s not enough to just set boundaries with ourselves and those around us; sometimes we need to do something physical to reinforce the idea. People who have been impacted by the negative repercussions of texting and driving sponsor numerous “pledge” campaigns, such as Robert J Debry’s Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks campaign.
Step Three: Spread the Word
We don’t want you to have to call a lawyer because you got into an auto accident while you were texting and driving on the way home from Farmington — our biggest concern is your continued safety. We hope that you never have to call a lawyer because you hit someone while texting (or because someone hit you while texting). Set personal boundaries to not text and drive, take a pledge and spread the word; whatever you decide to do, you’ll be helping reduce the rate of auto accidents and injuries everywhere.