It can be hard to ignore that little chime or buzz that indicates a new text message has come in, but if you're behind the wheel, you will need to wait until you are safely stopped to read your new message. In Rhode Island, it's illegal to text or hold your phone while driving, since cell phones are one of the leading causes of distracted driving.
On average, it takes 4.6 seconds to send a text message, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During that time, a driver driving 55 miles per hour can travel the entire length of a football field—all without looking up. For this reason, law enforcement across the country is working hard to crack down on distracted driving and prevent deadly accidents.
THE STATISTICS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
- According to the United States Department of Transportation, cell phone use is involved in 1.6 million auto accidents per year, leading to a half million injuries and 6,000 deaths.
- About 40% of American teens have ridden with a driver that uses their cellphone in an illegal or dangerous way while driving, according to the National Safety Council.
- $8% of young drivers have seen their parents text while driving, according to Consumer Reports.
- Using a cell phone while driving, including hands-free use, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol content of .08 percent, reports the National Safety Council.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO AVOID DISTRACTED DRIVING ACCIDENTS
Distracted driving is a serious concern for all drivers since distracted drivers are a danger to not only themselves and their passengers, but to all others on the road. Here are some ways you can avoid distracted driving accidents:
- Turn off or silence your cell phone, and put it away. If you can't hear an incoming message, you're much less likely to check your phone. Place your phone in your purse or pocket to keep it secured out of sight as well.
- Invest in a convenient hands-free device if you must talk on the phone while driving, but remember that talking hands-free still can be distracting and should be limited.
- If you're teaching your teen to drive, discuss the dangers of distracted driving with them and come up with rules for turning off their cellphone while driving or using an app like DriveMode or TxtShield.
- Drive defensively by leaving plenty of space between your car and other cars around you and watch for hazards on the road. Take note of other drivers that are driving erratically and try to stay away from them.
- Don't text or make calls when stopped at red lights—wait until you're parked to use the phone.
- Speak up if you're in the car with a driver who is using the phone while driving. It's your life they're endangering, after all.
- Talk about the dangers of texting and driving with your friends, family, and community to raise awareness.
Distracted driving is becoming a leading cause of injury and death for drivers of all ages. If you've been injured by a driver who was texting at the time of the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our Rhode Island personal injury attorneys have more than 125 years of collective legal experience to draw from. Schedule a free case evaluation with our team at Inman & Tourgee to learn more about your legal options today!