While some states have implemented cell phone bans use behind the wheel to reduce the number of distracted driving crashes, new evidence indicates that the laws might not work. Autoblog recently reported on research that revealed cell phone bans have very little impact on the number of traffic accidents. In fact, researchers found that since California put its handheld cell phone ban in place, the number of collisions statewide has decreased by a statistically insignificant amount.
This doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drive while talking on a cell phone.
One of the study’s authors, Daniel Kaffine of the University of Colorado, told Autoblog that three factors could account for the figures. First, it may be that many drivers are ignoring the ban. Second, it may be that hands-free devices are just as distracting as handheld phones. Third, it may be that drivers involved in crashes are reluctant to admit handheld cell phone use since it could result in a fine.
An earlier study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, told a much different story. According to that research, traffic fatalities dropped 22 percent in the two years immediately after handheld cell phone use behind the wheel was banned. This seems to show that a cell phone ban may have an effect on the number of vehicle-related deaths, but it does not necessarily have a significant impact on the number of distracted driving crashes.
In Colorado, it is illegal for novice drivers to use a cell phone while driving. It is also illegal to text and drive. Our state is one of many states that do not ban drivers from using handheld cell phones. Drivers are allowed to talk on their cell phones while driving, and with new automobile technology continuing to advance, many drivers are able to do so hands-free.
Distracted Driving Accident and Injury Statistics
According to its most recent statistical report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attributes 3,328 wrongful deaths and more than 421,000 injuries to accidents involving distracted drivers in a single year. The CDC estimates that 1,153 people sustain injuries and another nine people are killed each day in accidents involving a distracted driver.
Reports indicate that use of a cell phone to text or talk while driving is one of the most common driver distractions. In a survey of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64, approximately 69 percent admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving. Another 31 percent admitted they had read or sent at least one text message or email while behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Liability in Distracted Driving Accidents
Even though a cell phone ban may not be the solution to preventing distracted driving accidents, drivers must be aware of the legal liability they could face if their distraction results in a crash. Anything that causes drivers to take their hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or attention off the task of driving is a distraction and should be avoided.
Allowing oneself to become distracted while behind the wheel may be considered careless and reckless behavior. If such actions cause an accident that seriously injures someone else, the distracted driver could be held liable. Victims of distracted driving accidents may have the right to file a claim against the negligent driver for compensation to cover medical expenses, repairs, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as other accident-related losses.
Victims of distracted driving accidents in Fort Collins and elsewhere in Northern Colorado should seek immediate help from a qualified personal injury attorney.
- Autoblog: Cellphone Bans Don’t Reduce Accidents, Research Finds
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Distracted Driving
- Distraction.gov: What is distracting driving?, Key Facts and Statistics