There’s a solid body of research that points to an increased risk of accidents when a motorist is distracted by the use of electronic communication devices like cell phones at the wheel.
According to the National Safety Council, more than 1.5 million car accidents that occur every year can be traced to cell phone use by motorists. In Massachusetts, teenage motorists or novice drivers are prevented from using a cell phone while driving, but there is no blanket ban on the use of hand-held cell phones by adult drivers. Commercial bus operators are also banned from using cell phones while driving.
There is an extensive body of research by federal as well as private agencies that clearly points to the accident risks of driving while using a cell phone. The most often cited of these studies is the one conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
This study found that a motorist who is texting while driving has an accident risk that is up to 23 times higher than that of a person who is not texting while driving. Other studies have also yielded substantial and conclusive findings. One study found that using a cell phone while driving increased accident risks by up to 4 times. In 2010, an estimated 6,000 people were killed nationwide in accidents that were directly linked to distracted drivers.
When it comes to distracted driving behaviors that involve cell phones, there is no need for further evidence that this is dangerous behavior. Using a cell phone while driving is clearly negligent, and as such, a motorist who causes an accident because he is texting while driving or using a cell phone while driving, can be held liable in an accident.
While much of the focus on distracted driving centers on the use of texting devices and cell phones, the fact is that there are other behaviors that can also increase the risks of an accident. It’s not uncommon to see motorists driving to work reading a newspaper or a book, snacking or drinking beverages, applying makeup or even shaving while driving. These are seriously distracting behaviors that can divert a motorist’s attention away from the road and amplify accident risks.
John J. Sheehan is a Boston car accident lawyer, dedicated to the legal representation of victims of car accidents across Massachusetts.