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Just over 10 years ago, American adults started carrying cellphones with them everywhere. Prior to this point in time, cellphones were a relative novelty. But, within the span of a few years, they became a way of life for virtually all older teens and adults in the U.S. As a result of this explosion in popularity combined with the fact that people were increasingly doing more on their phones than just talking, cellphones became the single greatest threat to road safety other than alcohol.

Distraction has been a problem for drivers as long as cars have graced American roadways. However, there has never been a distraction quite like the cellphone. It rolls all three of the most common distraction types – manual, visual, and cognitive – and puts them into play all at once. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) likes to remind drivers that in the time it takes to read a text, they will have traveled the length of a football field with their eyes closed when operating at standard highway speeds.

In the years since cellphone-related distracted driving became the scourge of American roadway safety, every single state has passed various laws and regulations to restrict their usage in certain ways. Although each state has taken its own approach to restricting the use of cellphones behind the wheel, the fact that even the most “freedom focused” states treat this issue as a public safety hazard is telling. Unfortunately, this unified message doesn’t seem to have sunk in with the American public.

The Never-Ending Safety Threat

As an experienced car accident lawyer – including those who practice at Council & Associates, LLC – can attest, cellphone-related distraction remains a very real threat to all road travelers. Despite more than a decade of legal restrictions on the usage of electronic handheld technology in cars and endless campaigns designed to educate drivers about the hazards of texting, talking, and otherwise engaging with such tech while driving, this problem is as consequential as it has ever been.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 424,000 people were non-fatally injured – in addition to the more than 3,100 people who were killed – in collisions involving distracted drivers on U.S. roads during 2019 alone. Of those victims, approximately one out of every five were pedestrians, cyclists, and others not located in vehicles, which simply illustrates that distracted drivers are profoundly hazardous to all who encounter them.

It is unclear what will need to happen before electronic-related distractions will stop causing so much physical and economic damage in every pocket of the country. Until that time, it is important for motor vehicle accident victims to remember that any driver who strikes them may have been distracted and then tried to hide that fact. Working with an attorney to gather evidence that will uncover the truth can help to ensure that those who willfully engage in negligent or reckless behaviors while driving are held accountable for the harm they cause.


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