You’re stuck in a traffic jam two miles from your exit. You’ve been sitting in the same spot for over 15 minutes and you’re beginning to get extremely irritated. You look in your rearview mirror and see that the man behind you is focused on his phone. You look to your right and notice the driver is taking pictures of the traffic with her phone. You figure, why not? You take your phone out of your briefcase and log into Facebook to pass the time.
You update your status and play a round of Candy Crush. Meanwhile, you’ve moved another five feet. As you start your second game, your car is violently pushed forward into the back of an SUV. You hold your brakes, but the car behind you continues to push you deeper into the SUV’s bumper.
You drop your phone and attempt to swerve. Finally the car behind you stops. You look in your rearview mirror and see the driver’s phone on the dashboard and the driver with his head in his hands. Apparently, he couldn’t text and inch forward at the same time.
Although you’re relieved that your phone use wasn’t what caused the accident, you begin to second-guess your decision to pull it out of your briefcase anyway. You now have first-hand knowledge of the distractive force of cell phones while driving, but is it enough to keep you (and the driver behind you) from doing it again?
The Hazards of a Simple Reply
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 700,000 people a day use their cell phones while behind the wheel. We have become so addicted to the instantaneous connection to other people afforded by our smart phones that we can’t even take a break while driving and the consequences can be devastating.
The Federal Communications Commission estimates that driver distractions from cell phone use account for over 18% of all fatal car collisions, and roughly 500,000 people a year are injured in cell-phone related accidents.
These statistics show that it is imperative that you understand the risks and legal consequences of pulling out your phone while driving. In Virginia, cell phone use is a primary offense, which means you can be pulled over if an officer suspects you are using you phone. Other risks include:
- Fines. In Virginia, a first offense will cost you $125 and subsequent offenses are fined $250.
- Points on your license. If convicted, three demerit points will be assessed by the DMV.
- Convictions. If cell phone use causes an accident you could be convicted of various infractions.
- Accidents. Texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash.
Safe Communication, Feedback and Help
Given the high potential for distraction as well as injury, do you think texting laws are essential for driver safety? Should the government increase or decrease penalties for guilty texters? How do you feel about driver cell phone use? Are conversations more important than safety?
Let us know how you feel by leaving your opinions, thoughts, and questions in the comment section. Your voice will not only help us learn more about societal opinions, but your perspective on safety could also help future clients get the extra knowledge, reassurance, and support they need after a tragic accident.
You can also help by sharing this page on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. Spread the word about the dangers of texting while driving. Your friends and loved ones may need this information, too. Help them find it by clicking the media icons above to post on your walls and allow them the opportunity to learn and discuss.