For nearly 200 years, new inventions have been called dangerous, deadly, and sure to end life as we know it. From the invention of the steam train traveling at 30 mph to modern-day cell phones, all new technology is frightening to some and exhilarating to others. The ability to text anywhere can be valuable, but when irresponsible motorists combine texting and driving, the consequences can be deadly.
Texting while driving is even more dangerous in some situations than driving drunk since both the driver’s hands and eyes are not where they should be. Drivers need to consider the facts about texting and driving before picking up the phone on the road.
Distractions Are Dangerous
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 3,100 people were killed in 2020 due to driving distractions. Cellphones are a major factor in these crashes, whether the driver is looking at their phone or another passenger’s device. Nearly every demographic engages in risky behaviors, with nearly 325,000 accidents each year attributed to distracted driving.
Your Brain Can’t Drive and Text at the Same Time
Both texting and driving are tasks that require visual, cognitive, and physical attention at the same time. Taking even one hand off the wheel to read or type a text means less control of the car if another driver swerves or an animal crosses the road. The decrease in focus and concentration on the road and a driver’s surroundings can lead to auto accidents.
Recent studies have shown that reading messages or typing texts drastically slows a driver’s reaction time. Drivers also wander out of their lane more. Even using talk-to-text features that don’t require a driver to look down can create “inattentional blindness,” where the mind is distracted enough that it doesn’t recognize potential dangers in time.
Texts Take a Football Field to Read
It takes an average of five seconds to read a text. If a driver is moving at 55 mph, they will travel the length of a football field (360 feet) in the time it takes to look back at the road. That’s like driving that distance with their eyes closed – the driver doesn’t fully know what’s happening and could easily stray out of their lane into another car.
It also takes an additional three seconds for the mind to adjust to what it’s seeing when the driver looks back at the road. Losing that much reaction time can make the difference between being in a devastating crash and avoiding one.
Minimize the Risks of Texting and Driving
With the increase in car accidents related to texting behind the wheel, phone and car manufacturers responded by developing new features and software to help drivers protect themselves from their own questionable choices. Newer model cars can connect with phones to read texts aloud with minimal interaction from the driver. Many cell phones have a setting to automatically notify a sender that the recipient is driving and unavailable.
In addition to using these features to set a good example, parents can help reduce wrecks attributed to texting by talking to their children about the risks. Encouraging safe behaviors can start as early as when a child first rides in a car. By always demonstrating conscientious action, adults can show future drivers how focusing on the road is the most important job while driving.
Still Need a Reason Not to Text and Drive?
The results of a well-known study from 1981 hold true today – 93% of people believe they are “above average” drivers. Most people insist that they can text and drive without any decrease in attention or increase in risk. If the data concerning injuries and deaths aren’t convincing, or the risk of being charged with fines is no deterrent, consider some other reasons why texting and driving is a poor choice.
Increased Insurance Rates
While a simple charge of texting while driving in Pennsylvania doesn’t have to show on a driver’s record, they must notify their insurance company if they’re involved in a crash. The insurance carrier may then increase premiums or deductible rates since the driver has shown a tendency to engage in risky behavior while driving.
Property Damage and Injuries
Even in a single-car collision where the driver runs off the road, there can be significant damage to the car and bodily injury to the motorist. Drivers who tell themselves it’s fine to text when they’re the only one in the car still face the chance of wrecking their vehicle or being hurt. For most people, their car is crucial to every aspect of their lives, and being unable to drive can affect their work, family life, and freedom.
Increased Legal Jeopardy
A final reason to avoid cell phone use in the car in Pennsylvania is “Daniel’s Law,” named for Daniel Gallatin, who was killed by a driver distracted by texting when they drove into Daniel’s motorcycle. Being convicted of this offense carries a two-year jail sentence for causing a severe injury and a five-year sentence for a fatality when texting is involved.
Car Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been in a car accident related to texting and driving, contact our experienced team of Pittsburgh car accident attorneys to discuss your case.