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Cell Phones are Responsible for 28% of Motor Vehicle Accidents
It is estimated that nearly 28% of all accidents involve drivers that are talking on their cell phones or texting while driving. According to the National Safety Council (NCS):
“1.4 million crashes each year involve drivers using cell phones and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year involve drivers who are texting.”
NSC has called for a ban on cell phone use of any kind while driving. And although Indiana legislators have not heeded the call for restricting cell phones all together, Indiana’s ban on texting went into effect on July 1st, 2011. IC 9-21-8-59 addresses the use of telecommunications devices:
(a) A person may not use a telecommunications device to:
(1) type a text message or an electronic mail message;
(2) transmit a text message or an electronic mail message; or
(3) read a text message or an electronic mail message; while operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used in conjunction with hands free or voice operated technology, or unless the device is used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency.
(b) A police officer may not confiscate a telecommunications device for the purpose of determining compliance with this section or confiscate a telecommunications device and retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation of this section.
The law is silent on making and receiving phone calls, surfing the web or checking GPS. This law is also problematic on the facility of enforcement since the burden of proof is upon the officer to prove that texting has occurred while driving. This law asserts the patrolling officer cannot legally check or seize the phone to be used as evidence in a trial.
How is it possible to cite a non-complying driver?
In the event of a tragic accident involving fatality, law enforcement is awarded the ability to pull phone records. In a case of wrongful death, proof of texting while driving increases the percentage of fault the texting driver and their insurance company must bear. See “What is Comparative Fault?” – a discussion about assigning a percentage of liability in Indiana tort claims. While one would think teens might be the largest offending group, the Pew Research Center has found that adults are equally as active both texting and talking while driving and probably carry on cell phone conversations behind the wheel more frequently than teenagers.
The conversation concerning texting and driving has raised the public’s awareness about the dangers and the consequences of distracted driving. How many of us have engaged in conversation while driving from one place to another and yet, when we arrive at our destination we don’t remember the events of the journey? Before you pick up your cell phone, dividing your attention between the wheel and the road, remind yourself that drivers using cell phones look, but fail to see, up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. Then think of your family and how much they love and depend upon you, and then consider that other drivers on the road have families too.
Be careful driving.
The law firm of Ward & Ward has over 80 years of combined experience in wrongful death claims, auto accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, and injuries associated with semi tractor-trailer accidents. Ward & Ward invite you to contact them to arrange a FREE initial consultation about your case, by phone at 317-639-9501, through their website at wardlawfirm.com, or simply by visiting their conveniently-located downtown Indianapolis office. If we decide your case has merit, you won’t be charged unless we recover damages on your behalf.
“Distracted Driving,” The Use of any electronic device while driving
Distracted driving is an umbrella term which defines the use of an electronic devise of any kind while driving, including but not limited to hand-held and hands-free cell phone use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at any moment in time the prevalence of drivers talking on their cellphones is 11%. According to The National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 25% of all auto and trucking accidents in 2008 involved a driver talking on the cell phone.
It would seem that innovative technologies designed to make our lives easier have instead stepped-up the pressure to increase productivity, making it tempting to use our cell phones while driving from place to place. We call this multi-tasking. But in fact, science shows that the brain is not wired to process more than one task at a time. Instead, thought activities are handled in sequence or succession. Incoming information to the brain is filtered for action and encoding; too much information, i.e. more than can be processed, is filtered out. Since we cannot consciously choose which information is encoded and which is filtered out, this becomes of greatest concern when “multi-tasking” behind the wheel of a car or a commercial truck in motion. In other words, a natural lapse in critical data may be the impetus for a tragic accident or fatality. According to the National Safety Council, estimates indicate drivers using cell phones look, but fail to see, up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. Have you ever had a conversation while driving and after arriving at your destination, you don’t remember the drive at all?
Fatality Statistics for Distracted Drivers
The official U.S. Government website for distracted driving states: “In 2009 alone, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 more were injured in distracted driving crashes.”
Texting While Driving
Many states have enacted laws against texting behind the wheel. Effective July 1st, 2011, Indiana passed legislation (IC 9-21-8-59) making it illegal to text, receive a text or read a text while driving a motorized vehicle unless the device is equipped with voice-operated technology; an emergency call to 911 being the exception. However, a sub-section of the same legislation forbids officers to confiscate the texting device to determine compliance or as evidence to be used against the driver in Court; the latter section making it difficult, if not impossible, to enforce the ban on texting.
Commercial Motor Vehicles, Trucks are Regulated
Under the commerce clause of the Constitution, legislators recently passed federal laws banning commercial truck and bus drivers from using hand-held devices while driving. It is likely that in the future commercial carriers will be equipped with devices that can read incoming texts aloud and send out voice-activated texts.
The National Safety Council sees the ban on hand-held devices as only a partial cure to the existing problem since hand’s free devices do not remove the issue of cognitive distraction. How does phone conversation differ from conversation with a passenger? NSC believes that a passenger shares the driving experience and can suppress conversation under challenging conditions whereas the suppression of conversation on a cell phone may be considered rude. In an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, 83 percent of respondents said drivers using cell phones are a “serious” or “extremely serious” problem, yet
more than half of the respondents stated they had engaged in this behavior in the last 30 days. Participants to the survey saw the problem of cell phone use as only slightly less of an issue than driving under the influence of alcohol.
At this time, the NSC seeks to inform and change behavior voluntarily through education and self-discipline. But in the future I would anticipate that as support grows for legislation banning the use of hands-free devices, states will begin to fall in line on this issue.
Wrongful Death Attorneys Subpoena Phone Records from Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies
Accidents involving commercial trucks or semi tractor-trailers require an extensive knowledge of commercial codes, federal legislation and state laws. If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to a commercial driver’s negligence, the compassionate wrongful death attorneys at Ward & Ward have extensive experience in commercial carrier claims and can help ensure that you do not suffer needless financial distress in addition to mourning your tragic loss. The law firm of Ward & Ward has over 80 years of combined experience in wrongful death claims, auto accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, and injuries associated with semi tractor-trailer accidents. Ward & Ward invite you to contact them as soon as possible to arrange a FREE initial consultation about your case, by phone at 317-639-9501, through their website at wardlawfirm.com, or simply by visiting their conveniently-located downtown Indianapolis office. If we decide your case has merit, you won’t be charged unless we recover damages on your behalf.
Charlie WardWard & Ward Law Firm 728 S Meridian St Indianapolis, IN 46225 (317) 639-9501