Approximately twenty-three thousand people died in crashes involving distracted drivers from 2012 to 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. Distracted driving involves any activity that diverts attention from driving like talking or texting on a phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, adjusting the stereo, entertainment or navigation system, and anything else that takes attention away from the task of driving. Of these activities, texting is an especially dangerous distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds. Taking your eyes off the road to check your phone can lead to dangerous outcomes like unexpectedly slowing down or turning, running off the road, striking objects, striking other vehicles, and crossing into the opposite lane.
In order to avoid texting and driving, you should:
- Pull over at a safe location and park your car if you have to send or receive a text message.
- Appoint one of your passengers as a “designated texter” to handle your phone while you drive.
- Keep your cell phone in an out-of-reach place, like the trunk of your car, while driving so you are not tempted to use it.
It is illegal to text while driving in forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. In North Carolina, it is against the law to type into your cell phone to communicate with another person or read an email or text message while operating a vehicle. Cell phone use by drivers under eighteen is also illegal. North Carolina has not adopted a ban on hand-held phone use while driving, although such bans are in place in at least twenty-four states and the District of Columbia.
If you are involved in a car accident, you should be aware that it is appropriate for law enforcement to investigate the causes of the accident, including distractions like cell phone use. Investigators often ask the drivers involved if they were texting and subpoena cell phone records. Investigators can also learn about cell phone use by interviewing witnesses, including other passengers, and by obtaining and executing search warrants for access to cell phone records and devices. Records of text messages, phone calls, and social media activity can show that a driver was illegally using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident. Keep in mind that you can face criminal charges for destroying evidence relevant to any criminal offense.
If you have questions about an accident involving distracted driving or are seeking help obtaining compensation after an accident, you can call the law firm of Grimes Yeoman at (704) 321-4878 or contact us online for counsel and advice tailored to your specific situation.