In a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69 percent of people ages 18–64 admitted to using a cellphone while driving. While many feel making calls on the road is safe, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows that more than 3,000 people are killed each year as a result of distracted driving, including in car accidents involving cellphones.
If you or a loved one has been in such a crash, you know firsthand the serious health and financial effects that can result when someone talking on a cellphone causes a car accident. Showing that another person has been negligent in their actions behind the wheel can enable you to recover compensation for medical bills, property replacement costs, lost wages and other damages. An experienced lawyer can be an important legal advocate during this personal injury process.
How Cellphones Cause Car Accidents
Although talking on a cellphone does not chemically alter the brain as drugs and alcohol do, the degree of distraction often is the same. Talking on a cellphone can be so consuming to drivers that they swerve into other lanes or fail to observe posted speed limits. Studies also show that people talking on the phone have significantly slower braking speeds than undistracted drivers.
Just why is it so dangerous to drive and talk on the phone at the same time? The CDC reports that drivers become distracted while driving in three different ways:
- Visually. Motorists who take their eyes off the road to make or receive a call risk getting in a collision. Particularly when traveling at high speeds, failing to watch traffic for even a moment can produce severe accidents.
- Manually. Making or receiving a call on a cellphone can require motorists to remove at least one hand from the steering wheel. Holding a hand-held device further limits a driver’s ability to manually control a car. It can be difficult, for example, to swerve out of the path of another car or a pedestrian.
- Cognitively. A phone conversation can take your mind off the main task of driving a vehicle. This can have a serious impact when a traffic hazard requires a driver to make a split-second decision to avoid an accident.
While Bluetooth devices and other hands-free communications equipment can lessen the negative impact of talking on the phone in a car, there remains an element of greater distraction that can still contribute to accidents.
Find Help To Prove Another’s Negligence
Determining whether another’s use of a cellphone caused an accident can be difficult, and showing that a person is legally responsible for a crash can be harder. Fortunately, a personal injury attorney has investigative resources he or she can use to help prove another person’s negligence caused a collision.
A lawyer will likely seek to interview witnesses who observed a cellphone-caused auto accident. Attorneys also commonly request the phone records of the other driver to help determine whether talking on a cell phone led to a crash, or if a vehicle collision involved texting.