Craig P. Tiller, Esq. PLLC

The FCC cautions drivers against texting behind the wheel

The Federal Communications Commission hopes that educating motorists in Virginia and nationwide about the dangers of texting and driving may reduce the frequency of accidents. According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18 percent of fatal or injury-related crashes in 2010 were caused by distraction. These incidents led to 3,092 deaths and approximately 416,000 injured people.

Research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute suggests that engaging in texting while driving increases the risk of causing an auto accident by 23 times. Despite the risks, texting and driving is still a common occurrence, and no federal laws have been enacted to ban the practice. A study of 18- to 20-year-old drivers who survived accidents revealed that approximately 11 percent of them had been viewing or sending text messages at the time of the collision. In a Pew study, 40 percent of teenagers admitted to traveling with a driver who used a cellphone in a way that potentially endangered others.

Some state legislatures have restricted the use of mobile devices while driving. For example, laws may prohibit drivers from using handheld cellphones while operating a vehicle, and many states have laws to ban texting altogether. Even hands-free devices don't guarantee safety, and drivers who are deep in conversation may be less likely to pay attention to traffic or respond quickly to sudden stops ahead. Parents may help by setting clear rules for young drivers, such as no-texting policies and informing them of the dangers of distracted driving.

Individuals harmed by a distracted driver may file a personal injury claim if the police reports or witnesses confirm that the other driver was texting or otherwise distracted. In the event of a car crash, drivers may have a better chance of seeking coverage for medical needs or accident damage if they can prove that the other driver was acting negligently.

Source: fcc.gov, "The Dangers of Texting While Driving", September 12, 2014

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