It is no secret that text messaging while driving causes car accidents. Text messaging is by no means the only distraction drivers face, but it is currently one of the most prevalent. Many states across the nation have passed laws prohibiting the practice, imposing steep fines and other penalties on drivers found using their smartphones for text messaging and app use while driving. In fact, lawmakers in a few states have even proposed legislation to permit law enforcement to use “textalyzers,” electronic devices that can determine whether a driver was using his or her phone at the time of a collision.
Wisconsin and National Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people died as the result of distracted driving in 2015. That year, 391,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. Each day, an estimated 660,000 drivers use their cell phones while driving.
In Wisconsin, 24,016 collisions due to distracted driving were reported in 2015. 10,615 people were injured and 94 were killed by distracted drivers that year.
Why is Texting while Driving Dangerous?
Text messaging while driving is dangerous because it takes the driver’s eyes and hands – the most important connections he or she has with the vehicle and the task at hand – off the road. Not only does text messaging physically inhibit the driver’s ability to control his or her vehicle, it takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving as well.
When a driver relinquishes control of a vehicle like this, he or she can easily cause a collision by missing a hazard in the roadway, failing to swerve, stop, or adjust speed appropriately to the present traffic conditions, and miss stop signs, yield signs, and red lights. Even taking one’s eyes off the road for a few seconds can dramatically increase his or her risk of being involved in a collision. On average, a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that driver travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.
Texting and Other Driving Distractions
Other distractions drivers face in the car include:
Talking on the phone. Although hands-free headsets and software can make talking on the phone while driving less dangerous, it is still safest for drivers to completely focus on the roadway;
- Loud music that blocks important sounds outside the vehicle;
- Eating while driving;
- Grooming while driving;
- Adjusting a vehicle’s radio, climate control, or GPS;
- Daydreaming while driving;
- Pets in the vehicle; and
- Heated interactions with passengers in the vehicle.
Choose Not to Text and Drive
Texting while driving is a choice. You can protect yourself and others on the roadway by choosing not to text while you are driving.
For many, curbing a text messaging habit is not easy. Many individuals have to train themselves not to text and drive. A few strategies to consider to keep yourself from being tempted to respond to your phone’s notifications include:
- Setting your phone to silent when you are in the car;
- Downloading an app like Live2Txt and Cellcontrol to block incoming phone calls and messages while you are driving;
- Putting your phone in the glove box or back seat where you cannot reach it while you are driving; and
- If you are driving with a passenger, having him or her take over phone duties. This can mean taking your calls for you and responding to text messages on your behalf.
- If you are expecting an important text message or phone call, change the notification tone for its sender so you can differentiate between that individual and others. When you hear the tone for that caller or sender, pull off the road and park so you can take the call or respond to the message.
If you are the parent of a teen who drives or soon will drive, model safe driving behavior by opting not to text and drive. Talk to your child about the dangers of distracted driving and the consequences for texting and driving, which can include tickets, fines, damage to the vehicle, and injuries.
Work with an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a collision with a distracted driver, you have the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your related damages. To get started on your case with an experienced Appleton personal injury lawyer, contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.