Smartphones have become essential to our everyday lives. These indispensable tools have revolutionized communication, work, and entertainment. However, though smartphones make our lives easier, they also present significant risks, particularly when driving. In fact, smartphone use on the road has proven deadly, leading to rising road accidents and deaths throughout the U.S.
The correlation between smartphones and distracted driving is among our nation’s weightiest concerns. Please keep reading to explore how smartphone use while driving can be distracting and to learn more about rules and regulations about smartphone use behind the wheel and the risks it poses to auto accident claims.
What Are the Dangers of Distracted Driving Accidents?
The proliferation of smartphones has resulted in an uptick in distracted driving accidents. With immediate access to texting, calling, and various apps, drivers often find it challenging to resist using their phones while on the move. Whether a glance to read a text or prolonged use for navigation, any momentary diversion from the road can have catastrophic consequences.
According to studies, even a few seconds spent on a smartphone while driving can significantly impair a driver’s reaction time, akin to driving under the influence of alcohol. Cell phone use behind the wheel reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by a surprising 37%. This massive decrease elevates the risk of accidents, endangering drivers and other road users.
Between 2012 and 2021, the percentage of drivers manipulating hand-held electronic devices increased by 127%, from 1.5% to 3.4%. Among other activities, this includes text messaging. Sadly, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving in 2021 claimed 3,522 lives in the United States. This statistic supports a clear takeaway: while the allure of texting, talking on the phone, and even browsing social media might be hard to resist, the combination of smartphones and distracted driving is dangerous to everyone on the road.
Will Using a Smartphone Before or During a Car Accident Affect My Accident Claim?
Forty-eight states, including Virginia, have passed laws banning texting and driving. Twenty-four states have gone further and completely prohibited handheld cell phone use while driving. The penalties for breaking one of these laws can range from fines to a license suspension. If you get a ticket for distracted driving, including for texting and driving, and live in a state where it is illegal, you may also be liable for any accident you’re involved in. And there’s a chance you could see your insurance rate go up. Moreover, in states with comparative negligence laws, using a smartphone can also affect the allocation of fault—whether you caused the accident or not—tipping the balance in the other party’s favor.
How Can I Strengthen My Car Accident Claim If the Other Driver Was Using a Smartphone?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and suspect that the other driver was using their smartphone at the time of the collision, it can potentially strengthen your claim. Here’s how it can be beneficial:
- Establishing negligence. To successfully file a personal injury claim, you must demonstrate that the other driver was negligent. Using a smartphone while driving is a clear example of negligence, as it diverts attention from the road and increases the risk of accidents.
- Evidence in your favor. Evidence such as text message records, call logs, or social media activity can be invaluable in demonstrating that the other driver was distracted. Eyewitness accounts and surveillance footage from nearby cameras can also support your case.
- Comparative fault. In some states, if you can prove that the other driver’s smartphone use was a substantial factor in causing the accident, it may affect the allocation of fault. This can impact your compensation, especially if your state follows a comparative fault system.
Establishing that the other party’s smartphone use behind the wheel distracted them may strengthen your claim, helping to ensure a better chance of receiving a favorable judgment. If you’re in an auto accident with another party using a smartphone, consulting with a distracted driving accident attorney who understands the relevant laws in your state is essential. They can collect evidence to support your claim, establish liability, and help ensure a successful resolution.
What Are Other Legal Implications of Smart Phones and Distracted Driving?
Laws regarding smartphone use while driving vary from state to state. Still, many have implemented strict regulations to combat distracted driving, including:
- Texting and driving laws. As previously mentioned, most states have enacted laws prohibiting texting while driving, making it a primary offense in many cases. This means law enforcement can pull over a driver solely for texting.
- Hands-free laws. Several states require drivers to use hands-free devices while talking on the phone. This reduces the temptation to hold the phone while driving.
- Enhanced penalties. Some states have increased penalties for distracted driving offenses, especially if they result in accidents with injuries or fatalities.
- Civil liability. In addition to facing criminal charges, distracted drivers may be subject to civil liability if their actions lead to accidents. This can result in lawsuits and financial compensation for victims.
Recognizing smartphone use’s legal implications and potential consequences while driving is essential. Staying informed raises awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and contributes to safer roads and fewer accidents caused by smartphone distractions. Furthermore, understanding your rights and the laws in your region can help ensure you have a strong distracted driving claim.
The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC Is on Your Side
If you experience a car accident related to smartphone use and need the support of an experienced, compassionate attorney, The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, can help. With a legacy of nearly five decades of practice, we are proud to be Virginia’s premier personal injury law firm. Our expertise in handling car accident claims is unrivaled and supported by achieving the largest jury verdict in Norfolk. Contact us today to take advantage of our services and schedule a free consultation.