Have Cell Phones Increased the Rate of Car Accidents?

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It is hard to imagine living life in today’s world without the internet or a smartphone.  Seemingly everybody you know owns and uses a smartphone.  Although the innovative technology has enhanced our lives in ways that we never thought possible, cell phones can be quite dangerous when used improperly.  In fact, they can even be deadly; statistics over the past several years have shown that cell phone use while driving increases the chances of a car accident, which will likely lead to personal injury or death.

Using your cell phone while driving is dangerous behavior and is outlawed in many states.  The statistics showing how hazardous it is to use your phone while driving are astonishing:

  • According to the National Safety Council (NSC), over 1.6 million car accidents occur each year because of cell phone use.
  • About one out of every four car accidents in the United States occur because of texting and driving.
  • Almost 390,000 accident-related injuries occur every year because of drivers texting.
  • Teenage drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident when using their phone while driving.
  • Although 94 percent of teenage drivers know the dangers of texting while driving, about 35 percent admit to doing it.
  • Over 20 percent of teen drivers who were in a fatal car accident were using their cell phones at the time.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 660,000 drivers use their phones while driving each day.

Using a cell phone while driving dramatically increases the chances of getting into a car accident.  Texting and driving is perhaps the most egregious activity because it quite literally takes your eyes off the road for an extended period.  Texting forces your eyes to be on the phone for several seconds.  In that time span, situations may occur that could be disastrous; the driver in front may slam on their brakes, or someone may run out in the road.  In fact, one study found that texting while driving at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.

Although texting is often viewed as the most dangerous behavior while driving and done by people of all ages, there are others:

  • Playing music. Many people use their phones for streaming music and play it through their car radio. However, people take their time while they are driving choosing what song to play, or may switch between apps to find a tune, all while not focusing their attention to what is happening on the road.  One way to remedy this is to pick a playlist before setting off so that you do not have to choose mid-travel, or just stick to the car’s radio to limit your distractions.
  • Receiving or making phone calls. Although many vehicles now offer so-called hands-free phone calls, which means utilizing the vehicle’s Bluetooth system so that the driver can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, talking on the phone is still not fully paying attention to driving. It is better to silent notifications or turn off your phone entirely and let calls go to voicemail instead of being distracted by a conversation.
  • Using social media. Even a quick scroll through social media or checking for updates takes your eyes off the road for a few seconds. Although it does not happen as frequently as texting and driving, scrolling social media and driving can be just as dangerous.  Again, silent notifications before driving and keep your phone out of reach.
  • Using GPS. A study by an insurance comparison website found that over half of drivers believe that using GPS while driving is safer than texting while driving, but that is simply not the case. Traveling roads with which you are not familiar increases the chances of a car accident exponentially; combining that with focusing on your GPS instead of what is going on in front of you can turn into a serious or deadly accident.

Why Do People Text and Drive?

Although some studies have shown that texting and driving is six times more likely to cause a car crash than drunk driving, people still believe they can pull it off without consequences.  Whatever their reasoning is, it is a fact that texting and driving is just another form of distracted driving, and operating a car under such conditions will likely lead to an accident:

  • Multitasking. Many people believe that they can multitask, which will help them get more accomplished done during any given day. However, studies show that it is impossible to focus 100 percent on two different tasks, let alone more than two.  The more tasks someone takes on, the more their attention diminishes.
  • Motorists’ inflated opinion of their driving skills. Studies show that most drivers already believe they are better at driving than others, and now there are some who believe that they are better at texting and driving than others. It is difficult to understand this rationale, but it is one that many share.  They seem to convince themselves that, although others are not allowed to do it, they are under more control and that they are immune to any consequences.
  • Invincibility. Many people share this feeling of invincibility that makes them believe they can behave so dangerously without repercussions. This invincibility fallacy was once contributed to teenagers and young adults, but apparently many adults have the feeling as well.
  • Need to be plugged-in. In today’s world, we constantly feel the need to be plugged-in, meaning we must always feel connected, either through the internet or by texting or other means. Because of the advent of modern technology, people who once were unreachable before can now be contacted in seconds and at any time on any day.  This boosts one’s self-esteem, as receiving a notification or text message fulfills the need to be wanted and gives us immediate gratification.

How to Stop Using Your Phone while Driving

Although it seems to be a monumental task, the truth is you can pull yourself away from the dangerous habit of phone use and driving as you can with any other habit.  Here are a few tips to do so:

  • Use other distractions. You can safely distract yourself with other means in the car other than looking at social media or texting. Try using an audiobook or listen to an interesting podcast.  A positive activity such as those suggestions do not take away as much attention as texting or fiddling around with the radio.
  • Put the phone out of reach and out of mind. Put your phone on silent or airplane mode and place it in your glovebox before you drive, because if it is out of reach or out of sight, you more than likely will not think about it. If you are still tempted to look at your phone, putting it in your trunk before driving will be a better alternative.  Doing any of these will increase your safety behind the wheel, and you can suggest this new behavior to others and maybe it will make the roads a lot safer for everyone.
  • Take advantage of new apps. There are now newer apps that help deter you from using your phone while driving. Most may be called “drive mode” or something similar and are generally offered by many big-name companies such as AT&T or Verizon.  Newer smartphones have a drive mode built in, which detects when it is traveling above a certain speed and prevents you from sending or receiving texts.  Another option is just having a passenger in your vehicle answer your phone for you.

Distracted driving not only is dangerous to yourself and others, but also will raise your insurance rate by an average of over 20 percent.  In Maryland, getting caught with a distracted driving penalty such as texting and driving will cause your insurance rate to increase by over 15 percent.


Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients Injured by Distracted Drivers

There is no other way around it: Texting and driving is a dangerous habit and will lead to an accident.  If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted or negligent driver, reach out the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will thoroughly review the details of the accident, address all your questions and concerns, and ensure that you receive full and fair financial compensation for your injuries. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.