Distracted driving causes 9 deaths a day in the United States and more than 1,000 are injured. When a driver takes their eyes off the road and their attention off of their driving, they significantly increase their risk of getting into an accident. Mobile devices were not meant to be operated while driving, yet everyday people get behind the wheel and text or read email while they are driving. It is a very serious problem.
Why Distracted Driving Is a Serious Problem in Arkansas
When a driver looks at a text, it takes their attention off of the road for a minimum of 5 seconds. If their vehicle is traveling at 55 mph, by the time the driver looks back up they will have traveled the length of a football field – without looking at the road. A 2006 study showed that people who talk on their cell phones while driving are as impaired as someone with who is driving while intoxicated (with a legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08%). Distracted driving, especially when a mobile device is involved (texting, email, etc.), is a very dangerous hazard on the road.
National Statistics for Distracted Driving
The NHTSA reports that there were 3,477 fatalities 391,000 people injured in accidents caused by distracted driving. It is estimated that throughout the course of any given day, there are more than 660,000 drivers texting or using their devices while driving. This means that distracted driving accidents made up almost 10% of the total fatal accidents in the United States (32,166 total accidents in 2015). Total accidents in the U.S. in 2015 totaled 6,264,000 with 1,715,000 injuries. These figures include drivers, passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other nonoccupants. Many experts predict that once the data is compiled for subsequent (more recent) years, there will be a growth trend showing the numbers of distracted driving accidents, fatalities, and injuries steadily increasing.
Arkansas Statistics for Distracted Driving
According to the most current statistics published from collected data in the NTHSA Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS), in Arkansas in 2015 there were 225 accidents with fatalities. Each of these accidents the driver was distracted in some way, including not paying attention to the road, being careless, or taking their eyes off the road. Of those 225 accidents, in six of them the driver was using a cell phone (including texting). While this may not appear to be a significant problem, when you look at the big picture it tells a different story.
There was a total of 556 fatal crashes in Arkansas in 2015. When you put it into perspective, nearly half (41%) of the accidents were the result of distracted driving. That is enough to raise some very valid concerns. It is important to also keep in mind that these are only accidents with fatalities They do not include accidents that were non-fatal or the many near misses that were caused by distracted driving or, more specifically, texting while driving.
Arkansas Law Regarding Texting and Driving
Arkansas has some of the more stringent texting and driving laws in the country. In 2009, it became illegal in the state for anyone to text while driving. “Paul’s Law,” Arkansas Code § 27-51-1501, prohibits “drivers of motor vehicles from using handheld wireless telephones to engage in text messaging.” Drivers who are caught texting while operating a vehicle can be ticketed and receive a fine of $100.
Arkansas drivers who are 18 to 20 years old are prohibited from using their phones, in their hands, while driving. This means that they cannot text or make calls while holding their phone. They can, however, use a hands-free device for calls.
Drivers in Arkansas who are younger than 18 years old are prohibited from using a cell phone at all, even with a hands-free device.
In March, 2017, Arkansas SB 374 was signed into law and became Act 706, making stricter penalties for texting while driving. Once this law is in effect, the penalty structure will be similar to those for DUI. This law increases the fine for the first offense from $100 to $250. For each violation after that, the penalty will increase, up to $500. If the driver is involved in an accident and texting while driving was a factor, they will be required to normal fine will be doubled.
Contact an Arkansas Distracted Driving Attorney
If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver, the law is on your side. Call the Law Offices of Alan Levar and get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 888-220-7068 and find out how we can help you.