Texting and driving is a terribly dangerous activity. Driving a car, especially on the highway, is the single most dangerous activity that most people do on a daily basis. When drivers take their eyes off the road to send or read a text, their eyes leave the road for a few seconds. At highway speeds of 60 miles per hour, every second you look away from the road, you travel 88 feet. Spending just four seconds reading a text means you travel approximately the length of a football field without looking at the road.
The following statistics and information may be helpful in understanding the real life risks of texting and driving.
TEXTING AND DRIVING FACTS
Throughout the United States, police and lawmakers have increased their efforts to end the dangers associated with distracted driving. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have put together some facts and statistics about texting and driving. Because of the way traffic and accident data is collected, 2015 is the year with the most recent statistics.
In these national statistics, we see that about 2.2% of drivers used cell phones while driving, in both 2014 and 2015. Even through inclement weather, on both highways and other roads, these drivers made the dangerous decision to use their phone. From these statistics, we see that drivers in the South (which includes Arkansas) are the second-worst cell phone offenders. While less than 1.7% of drivers in the Northeast and 1.0% of drivers in the Midwest use phones on the road, 2.8% of drivers in the South and 3.1% of drivers in the West manipulate their phones while driving.
The NHTSA highlights that, in 2015, 3,477 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving. Overall, 391,000 people were injured because of these car accidents. This 3,477 deaths account for a whopping 10% of all car accident fatalities.
The NHTSA’s Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) reports various driving and accident statistics based on individual accident reports. According to FARS, in 2015, Arkansas had 225 fatal accidents involving distracted driving (including looking away or being careless). Six of these fatal car crashes were caused by cell phone use. These numbers may not seem large, but with only 556 fatal accidents in the state, this is concerning. This number also does not include the non-fatal accidents or number of near misses attributed to texting behind the wheel.
ARKANSAS TEXTING AND DRIVING LAWS
One of the reasons these numbers may be low in Arkansas is because of its texting and driving laws. Since 2009, it has been illegal for anyone to text while driving. Under Arkansas Code § 27-51-1501, also called “Paul’s Law,” you can receive a $100 traffic ticket for texting and driving. This makes it illegal to use a handheld phone for any “wireless interactive communication,” texts, or messaging on other apps.
It is also illegal for specific groups to use their phones while driving. While no one can text, drivers aged 18-20 cannot use their phone, in their hand, for calls. They must instead use a hands-free device to make calls. Drivers under 18 are completely banned from any cell phone use while driving, even with a hands-free device.
On March 29, 2017, Arkansas SB 374 of 2017 was signed into law to make stricter penalties for texting and driving. When this law goes into effect, it will increase the penalties, and add penalties for repeat offenses. This bill will increase the fine for a first offense to $250. Further, any subsequent violation will increase the penalty to up to $500 for each offense. If the texting leads to an accident, the driver will be made to pay double the typical fine.
This law also helps injured drivers recover for their injuries. When proving a personal injury case, you must show that the other driver failed to use the proper care, which lead to your injuries. Since it is illegal to text and drive, this is automatically an instance of failing to use the proper care. This can help you recover compensation for your car accident injuries.
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