In this digital age, as technology has progressed, many things have become easier. Cell phones are just one example of just how much has changed. From taking professional level photos to video calls with others across the world, to sending and receiving email with a tap of a finger, our cell phones have become something of a fifth appendage. However, in certain situations our constant dependence upon them has had severely negative consequences. According to a 2016 report issued by the U.S. Department of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at any given time during daylight hours, approximately 481,000 drivers are using their cell phones, checking their text messages, phone calls, emails, and applications. As a result, it is not uncommon for someone to be involved in a car accident caused by using a cell phone while driving.
Cell Phone Usage Proves Deadly in Car Accidents
In 2016 alone, distracted driving accounted for 3,450 deaths and 391,000 injuries from a car accident caused by using cell phone. The NHTSA released fatal traffic crash data for 2016, finding that despite distraction-related driving deaths decreasing by 2.2 percent over the previous year, they were still by far a great contributor of driving fatalities. Distraction-related deaths surpassed drowsy-driving deaths and bicycle deaths.
Teen Cell Phone Use and Addiction
Nielson, a global leader in research, ratings, and data for media found that as of 2016 smart phone ownership was highest (98 percent) among Millennials (then) aged 18-24.
By 2020 teens ages 12 to 17 who own and use a smart phone are expected to increase to almost 93 percent; ownership and usage for the overall U.S. population is expected to increase to over 87 percent. This is not surprising considering as per a 2016 survey from Common Sense Media, half of all teens considered themselves addicted to their phones, with 78 percent of them checking them at least once per hour. In a recent study, teens who text while driving have a 400 percent increase in their risk of experiencing a car accident and veer outside of their lane 10 percent more than their non-distracted counterparts. Between their inexperience (which makes them more likely to speed and less likely to wear a seatbelt) and their addiction to their cell phones, teenage drivers make up a higher-risk group of distracted drivers and suffer the most distracted-driving-related fatalities than any other age group.
State Legislation for Texting While Driving
The use of cell phones while driving is not for lack of legislation. Texting causes visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. In many states it is now illegal for drivers to drive and talk while holding a cell phone and to text while driving. Penalties may include small to large fines and jail time. For example, the state of Alaska issues fines of up to $10,000 and up to one year in jail for texting while driving. If a distracted driving accident due to cell phone use results in a fatality, Alaska considers it a Class A felony, punishable by up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in jail.
Have You Been Involved in a Cell Phone Related Car Accident?
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