Using A Cell Phone While Driving…What Happens Next?

Cell Phone While Driving, Texting, Apps and Traffic Accidents

A new, dangerous trend in driving is increasing auto accidents: cell phone while driving, texting/apps and driving. All lead to driver inattention and accidents.

Records show that “driver attention/distraction” crashes have increased steadily going from 35,546 accidents in 2006 to 49,833 in 2010. Highway fatalities in the US increased 10 % from 2015 to 2016. Although there has been no definitive study linking the use of cell phones to an increased accident rate, there appears to be a general consensus in the insurance, automotive, and police sectors that the use of cell phones is a cause.

It is well accepted that talking on a cell phone can distract a driver. Unsafe use of the phone, including texting and using apps, is prohibited in New Jersey. For example, a driver can lose his concentration on driving by turning his eyes from the road to his cell phone for only a few seconds. If a driver takes away his focus from the road for only five seconds while traveling at 55 mph, the driver would have covered a football field length of the road.

A vehicle operator will be at fault for an accident where a cell phone is in use. The police report will categorize the driver as being “inattentive” or “distracted.” We have had some cases where the defendant operator was distracted while using a cell phone. In one case, an elderly pedestrian was very seriously injured from being struck by an SUV. The vehicle’s operator was chatting away on the phone. Her insurance company conceded liability without a protest.

Here are some safe driving tips:

Make your passenger the “designated cell phone” person. He can receive and make your calls. Also, he can use the cell phone’s map to navigate the trip.

If you are driving solo, turn off the cell phone. Check it at stops, i.e., stops where you are parked. Pull-over when it rings or pings.

If you are on a long drive, make periodic stops. Do not be fooled into thinking that you will not be distracted and that you can juggle the demands of the wheel and the cell phone at the same time.

Install a GPS map system in your car’s dashboard. It will “speak” the directions to you. It will be less distracting than looking at a cell phone. Also, you will be glancing at the dashboard rather than looking down at a cell phone on your lap.

Cell phones, texting, and apps do not go together with driving. It’s a fatal brew.

NJ Statute – NJSA 39:4-97.3

The use of a wireless telephone by an operator of a moving motor vehicle on a public road or highway shall be unlawful except when the telephone is a hands-free wireless telephone, provided that its placement does not interfere with the operation of federally required safety equipment and the operator exercises a high degree of caution in the operation of the motor vehicle.

Topic: Using Your Cell Phone While Driving

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