What are the chances of texting and driving causing a fatal car accident? It is estimated that as many as one in every four fatal car accidents involves a driver who was texting at the time of the collision. Distracted drivers who text and drive are six times more likely to cause an accident than a drunk driver. Nationwide, texting while driving is one factor of a distracted driving equation that is claiming an increasing number of lives. in 2014, 3,179 individuals were killed in distracted driving accidents and 431,000 were injured. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 9 individuals are killed and over 1,000 are injured by a distracted driver each day.
Texting while driving involves three forms of distraction. These include visual distractions that take the drivers eyes away from the road, manual distractions that take their hands off vehicle controls, and cognitive distractions that take their mind off operating the motor vehicle. These distractions can easily cause a fatal car accident. Those at greatest risk are drivers under the age of 20. Unsurprisingly, this is also the same demographic that has some of the highest rates of texting while driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that as many as 3.8% of drivers utilize a handheld cell phone while driving. This represents a decrease from a peak of 5.2% in 2012. This decrease is due in large part to the passage and implementation of laws that prohibit the behavior. Many of these laws came into effect between 2010 and 2016. These laws came about during a time that saw the prevalence of smartphones and the sending of text messages grow exponentially.
As of 2016, 46 states and four US territories have implemented bans on texting while driving. Of the remaining four states, Missouri and Texas ban texting while driving for novice drivers and only Arizona and Montana have no ban in place. In many states texting while driving is a behavior that is considered a primary offense which means that motorists can be cited solely for texting while driving.
Establishing that a driver was texting in the moments before a fatal car accident requires a forensic examination of multiple data points. This includes data collected by the Event Data Recorder (EDR) within the vehicle. This device stores information on vehicle speed, braking patterns, impact points, time of an accident, etc. This information is then compared with cell phone records that establish times of texts, calls, etc. When cell phone usage is a factor in causing a crash, the recorded times establish whether a driver was texting or manipulating a cell phone at the time of the crash.
Brad Pistotnik represents survivors who were involved in a fatal car accident in Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City, Goodland, and other cities in Kansas, Illinois, and Nebraska. Spouses and dependents who have lost a loved one in an accident caused by a distracted driver can pursue wrongful death claims to cover lost income, medical expenses, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
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