Cell phones have become mandatory for any professional adult. Once a high tech luxury gadget, now almost everyone has a cell phone, and increasingly more people have two. Cell phones have made modern life more convenient, allowing us to keep in touch and remain available at all times. Cell phones have helped to define the modern understanding of “multi-tasking” that has become so entrenched in America’s social culture.
All of us have either been or seen the motorist chatting away on his or her cell phone, oblivious to other vehicles. And with texting technology becoming more widely used, it is not uncommon to see motorists texting while driving! Whether you are dialing, answering, talking, or texting, cell phones are a distraction and a danger on the roads. Consensus data on the number of accidents and injuries caused as the result of cell phone distraction on the roads is not readily available, however, some sources report as many as 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries are caused in the United States each year because of cell phone distraction. http://www.livescience.com/technology/050201_cell_danger.html
Younger generations entering the driving public take cell phones for granted. Indeed, they have nver known life, or driving, without cell phones.
More and more states are addressing the use of cell phones while driving through legislation. 5 states (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington), the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have enacted jurisdiction-wide cell phone laws prohibiting driving while talking on handheld cell phones. 17 states and the District of Columbia have special cell phone driving laws for novice drivers. No state completely bans all types of cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) while driving. For more information on your state’s cell phone laws, see the Governors Highway Safety Association website at http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html.
Regardless of the law in your state, if you cause a motor vehicle accident because you were distracted by your conversation or text messaging on a cell phone, chances are you will be and should be held liable. Talking on your phone while driving and allowing your phone use to distract you is negligence. When involved in an accident, you should try to determine if the other driver was talking on his or her cell phone. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you may want to consider seeking the cell phone records of the other driver to determine if he or she was talking on their cell phone or texting at the time of the accident.
To avoid being a hazard on the road, invest in a hands-free unit or consider available technology that transfers your cell call to your car’s audio speakers when you enter the vehicle. At a minimum, every driver should have a hands-free option for using their cell phone while driving. Almost all cell phones can now be voice programmed to call those stored in your phones list of contacts so you don’t have to manually dial the number. Many newer vehicles are being sold with the option of installing your cell phone and service into the car.
Cell phones are a wonderful convenience. We have become so acustom to using our cell phones almost everywhere that talking on the phone while driving can easily become second nature. Don’t allow your phone, however, to interfere with your ability to drive safely or endanger others around you. Cell phones can be used responsibly while driving. All of us just need to take the time to familiarize ourselves with the technology so we can eliminate or at least reduce the danger posed by talking on our phones while driving.