According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nine people are killed daily in accidents that reportedly involve distracted drivers. The organization also reports that in the United States, over 3,100 people were killed and about 424,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2019. Distracted driving has been an increasingly significant problem as technology has become more accessible and commonplace. In this article, we'll discuss distracted driving and how this epidemic may impact Arizona drivers.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, give us a call or text today at 602-345-1818. At Impact Legal, our initial consultations are completely free of charge – you may also schedule yours by filling out this form.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving refers to any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the operation of the vehicle. This may include eating while driving, sending a text message, speaking on the phone, tuning the radio station, or using a navigation system. These distractions can put you and other drivers at risk while on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) categorizes three main types of distractions behind the wheel:
- Visual - taking your eyes off the road
- Manual - taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive - taking your mind off driving
More Distracted Driving Data
The data paints a worrisome picture of distracted driving and accidents that result in serious injury or death, especially in the case of teenage drivers.
- Nearly one in five deaths of people involved in accidents with distracted drivers weren't in a vehicle – they were pedestrians, bikers, etc.
- In 2019, of the accidents involving distracted drivers, a higher percentage of those drivers were 15 - 20 years old.
- A US survey of high school students found that 39% of students had sent text messages or emails while driving in the past 30 days.
What Is Arizona Doing to Stop Distracted Driving?
Arizona's “Hands Off” law went into effect January 2021. This law made it illegal for Arizona drivers to utilize stand-alone electronic devices while driving, unless these devices are in hands-free mode. Electronic stand-alone devices include cellphones, tablets, and other wireless devices. Further, the law prohibits:
- Holding or supporting a device with your body.
- This includes, but is not limited to, in your hands and perched on your shoulder.
- Reading, writing, or sending a message via any portable wireless communication device.
- Scrolling through social media, watching videos, recording videos, or any other use of the device that causes a distraction and requires use of your body.
According to the law, drivers are allowed to utilize devices for the following reasons:
- To engage and disengage a function on the device such as GPS route start and answering or ending a call.
- Talk on the portable wireless communication device with an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on the wrist to conduct voice-based communication.
- Use a device for navigation of the vehicle.
- Use a device in an emergency situation to summon help or report a crime.
The “Hands Off” law permits officers to stop drivers for “texting and driving.” Drivers violating this law could face criminal and civil charges. If drivers are pulled over, they may be fined $75 to $250. If the distracted driver causes an accident while violating the “Hands Off” law, criminal charges may be filed if serious injury or death occurs. Drivers may face up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Federal Protections Against Distracted Driving
Along with the recent Arizona law, the federal government is working to end distracted driving with its own initiatives. The CDC launched its “Parents Are the Key” campaign which helps parents, pediatricians, and the community keep teen drivers safe. The US Department of Transportation developed a National Roadway Safety Strategy. One component in the strategy discusses vehicle technology systems that detect distracted driving. In 2021, the inclusion of distracted driving awareness on driver's license exams was approved by Congress via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Lastly, in 2009 and 2010, several regulations were implemented for workers, including President Obama's Executive Order that prohibited government workers from texting while driving in government vehicles and in privately owned vehicles when used to conduct official government business, the Federal Railroad Administration's ban on cellphone use for railroad operating employees on their job, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) ban on commercial drivers' use of text messaging while driving.
Tips for Avoiding Distractions While Behind the Wheel
Avoiding distractions while driving saves lives. Following these tips may keep you and your loved ones safe:
- Send texts and make calls before you start your vehicle
- Set your navigation before you pull out of your driveway or parking spot
- If you're in the vehicle with someone becoming distracted, speak up and help them manage the distraction – maybe adjust the navigation, control the music, or send the text message for them
- Avoid multitasking while driving, including seemingly simple things like adjusting your mirrors or radio
- Download an app that lets you reduce cell phone notifications while driving
- Parents can be communicative with their teenage drivers about the dangers of distracted driving
When to Call a Car Accident Lawyer
If you've been involved in an accident with a distracted driver (whether the distracted driver was you or the other party or parties involved), you should consult a car accident lawyer. A lawyer will help you navigate the incident to ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to so that you can recover. Remember that even if you are at fault, you may still be entitled to some percentage of compensation, depending on your specific case. Be sure to consult a lawyer to ensure you get a fair shot at recovery. At Impact Legal, we offer free initial consultations. Set yours up today by calling or texting 602-345-1818. Alternatively, you may fill out our convenient online form here.