In 2015 alone, distracted driving caused the deaths of nearly 3,500 people. Distracted driving is classed as any form of driving in which the driver’s attention is diverted from the task at hand. Furthermore, over 391,000 people were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers. These deaths and injuries could have been avoided with more alert drivers, so it begs the question, are tougher laws needed to combat distracted driving?
How Dangerous is Distracted Driving?
Driving while distracted is like closing your eyes for five seconds - or the length of a football field - when going 55 mph. Most sensible people wouldn’t purposely drive without seeing the road, so why do people put their lives and others’ lives at risk everyday? Will tougher laws crack down on this issue and stop distracted driving?
Insurance Price Increases
Tougher laws may help, but they won’t entirely eliminate the problem. Already this epidemic of distracted driving incidents has increased car insurance prices - so you’re paying the costs of unsafe drivers on the road.
Many states ban new drivers from using a phone when driving, but there’s often not a handheld ban. 14 states prohibit handheld phone use when driving, 38 states ban cell use for teen drivers, and 47 states ban text messaging for drivers. California, Hawaii, and Illinois - just to name three of many - have a ban on all drivers using devices when operating a vehicle, but states like Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida have no such ban (except on texting). The National Conference of State Legislature has a list of states which do and do not ban cellphone use.
Distracted Driving Fines
In Mississippi the first time offense for being caught texting and driving is a $500 fine but some states only have $20-25 fine. Most states have fines under $150, so is the fiscal penalty enough of a deterrent? However, in Alaska there’s a $10,000 fine, and one year in prison. But are states seeing a decline in distracted driving? The answer is not really. In fact, some states have increased their level of accidents since imposing higher penalties. Of course, it’s likely that there’s no direct correlation; this kind of technological distraction is a fairly new problem and hasn’t been studied thoroughly enough to speculate about what works and what doesn’t work.
Can Distracted Driving Laws be Enforced?
The problem often lies in how do you catch and enforce texting bans? How do you know if someone is using Siri to make a hands-free phone call or when someone is texting? Are both equally distracting. Probably. But the issue is really that there either needs to be ways to enforce the laws, or the laws need to get more creative. How can we combat distracted driving to reduce accidents? Even in the UK, where phone use is banned, it hasn’t really reduced accidents in a measurable way - but for new drivers, getting caught texting and driving can mean an automatic license suspension for two years.
Call for Education
The best course of action to combat distracted driving is in education. People should be educated on the dangers of distracted driving and cellphone use when driving. Fines don’t seem to deter drivers nor do points or license bans.
Find out what to do if you’ve been in an accident caused by distracted driving here, and read about the distracted driving laws in Mississippi.
When Do I Need an Attorney for a Distracted Driving Case?
If you have been injured in a car accident because of a distracted driver, to get the most compensation for your accident, you will want an experienced legal team behind you. Insurance companies are a business like any other and want to preserve their profit margin; thus, they hire tough legal teams to battle claims and try and pay out as little as possible. Coxwell & Associates, PLLC. has over 36 years of experience winning personal injury cases and we’re dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve. Get in touch with us today if you want a FREE case consultation. We can analyze your case and provide feedback on the strength of your case.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.