While 46 states currently ban text messaging while driving, other forms of distracted driving are still technically not illegal. In fact, over 70% of respondents in a recent survey admitted to eating while driving. Even more prevalent was drinking (non-alcoholic drinks) while driving, at 83%. However, this may be changing soon. In Maine, lawmakers have passed a bill that fines drivers up to $500 for distracted driving. The New Jersey legislature is considering a similar law in response to a study that shows about half of accidents in New Jersey involve distracted driving.
The New Jersey law would prohibit drivers from doing anything “unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle,” including drinking, eating, using a navigation system, talking to passengers, putting on makeup, watching a video, or reading a map or book. In other words, that morning cup of coffee on the way to work would have to wait until you reach your destination. While these behaviors seem innocent enough, anything that takes the driver’s focus off the road poses an immediate danger to passengers and other motorists.
Alabama currently bans texting for all drivers and any cell phone use for drivers aged 16-17. Amongst all Alabama drivers, you are 23 times more likely to have an accident than a driver who is not distracted. In order to avoid the temptation, the state recommends placing your phone in the backseat when driving, using a hands-free device, or pulling off the road if you must respond to a text. Although more crashes occur in urban areas, more fatal wrecks happen in rural areas.
It’s remarkable just how dangerous distracted driving can be. Consider this: the average time it takes to send or receive a text is five seconds, according to distraction.gov. In that interval, you cover a full football field when travelling at 55 miles per hour. Tragically, over three-thousand people died, and nearly half a million more were injured, in a distracted driving accident in 2014.
While you can’t control other drivers’ behavior, you can control your own. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another driver, call the experienced Huntsville personal injury attorneys of Martinson & Beason, P.C. today, for a free consultation. We handle all car accident cases on a contingency, meaning we don’t get paid until you do. For more information on distracted driving, check out our page here.