Replying to a text message at a stoplight might seem as innocent enough of an activity, but the reality of texting and driving—and the car accidents that it has caused—is far grimmer.
Distracted driving causes 9 deaths a day in the United States. 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.
Young Adult Drivers and Perceptions of Texting While Driving
The Zebra conducted a national survey of young adult drivers to determine their knowledge of texting and driving laws across the country. In 2018 alone, over 4,500 people died in car crashes due to cell phone use, accounting for over $129 billion in damages and being linked to nearly 15% of fatal crashes that year.
The results of the survey show that while 40% of young drivers (aged 18-24) felt well-informed about their own state’s texting and driving laws, 36% of respondents admitted to texting while driving. Strangely, among drivers who admitted to texting while driving, 51% of those surveyed said they felt “very” or “extremely” familiar with their own state’s laws on texting.
This survey highlights two critical outcomes: the fact that many young drivers are aware of the dangers and laws surrounding texting and driving, but continue to engage in the behavior anyways, and that other similar actions (such as using a GPS while driving) are equally as dangerous but generally viewed as a more benign behavior by passengers and other drivers.
The survey also indicates “a knowledge gap among young adult drivers who feel well-informed about the law, aware of their ability to handle multiple tasks while distracted, and the reality of the dangers posed by various forms of distracted driving.”
National Statistics for Distracted Driving
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017.
- Using a cell phone while driving caused an estimated 1.5 million car accidents in the U.S. in 2018, according to the National Safety Council.
- Texting while driving is a contributing cause in 25% of all car accidents, resulting in almost 400,000 physical injuries annually.
- A single text results in an average distraction of 5 seconds, during which time a car going 55 mph will travel the length of a football field.
- As of January 2019, only three states—Arizona, Montana and Missouri—do not have laws against texting while driving.
- According to the most current statistics published from collected data in the NTHSA Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS), there were 34,247 fatal crashes in the United States involving 52,274 drivers in 2017. Distracted driving was identified as a contributing factor in nine percent (or approximately 3,082) of these fatal crashes.
Arkansas and Distracted Driving
Arkansas has some of the more stringent texting and driving laws in the country. In 2009, Arkansas Code § 27-51-1501, also known as “Paul’s Law,” went into effect to prohibit drivers of motor vehicles from using handheld wireless telephones to engage in text messaging.
In addition, Arkansas drivers who are 18 to 20 years old are prohibited from using their phones in their hands altogether while driving. This means that they cannot text or make calls while holding their phone, but may use a hands-free device to make 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, marking stricter penalties for texting while driving. The penalty structure is similar to DUIs in that it increases with each subsequent offense.
This law increased the existing fine for the first offense from $100 to $250, and for each violation after that, the penalty increases up to $500. If the driver is involved in an accident and texting while driving was a factor, they will be required to pay double the normal fine.
There was a total of 493 fatal crashes in Arkansas in 2017. Putting the national rate of distracted driving fatalities into perspective, this means that 44 of these fatal accidents could have been prevented if the driver had simply not been distracted.
If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver, the law is on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Alan LeVar today to schedule a free consultation and to discuss the details of your claim with a compassionate Arkansas personal injury attorney.