Distracted driving: it’s a major problem. In 2016 alone, almost 10 percent of all fatal crashes were a result of drivers being distracted behind the wheel — that’s more than 3100 crashes. Making matters worse, digital devices like cell phones were a contributing factor in 14 percent of those 3,100 crashes. In other words, there is an unavoidable link between car crashes and cell phones.
With more and more Americans owning cell phones and other digital devices, these statistics aren’t going away anytime soon. The percentage of car crashes caused by cell phones may very well hold steady or even increase as time goes by, even in the face of states doing their best to make it illegal to make phone calls while driving or at least make it illegal to text while driving, as the law states in Texas.
Yet with how many car crashes are caused by cell phones, it’s going to become increasingly possible that you’ll be involved in one yourself. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, here’s what you need to keep in mind during and after the event.
Your Very First Steps
With car crashes and cell phones, the immediate process of what you do in the aftermath is identical to what you would do in a car crash that wasn’t caused by digital device usage. The first steps always remain the same: ensure that anyone and everyone at the scene of the accident that needs medical attention gets it, immediately and no matter what.
Once that’s been taken care of — and only after — it’s time to begin going through the rest of the process. This will involve exchanging information with the other driver, which means recording their contact details, their license information, and their insurance provider. After you’ve done this, you can move on to documenting the accident thoroughly by taking as many pictures of the scene as possible, which is ironically made easier to do with a cell phone in hand.
Be sure to get photos of all vehicles involved, any damage they’ve sustained, and any injuries suffered as well. Pay attention to any road conditions that might have contributed to the accident as well, and if you can you should also make sure these conditions are noted in the police report you file on the scene. Also, when you do file a police report, ensure that you tell the police that cell phone use was involved.
Finally, no matter how shaken up physically or emotionally you may be as a result of the accident, avoid any discussions or confrontations with the other driver involved. You may feel strongly about the link between car crashes and cell phones, but becoming upset and angry, and then directing those emotions at the other driver, could damage any legal claims you may need to make in the future.
Building a Case for Cell Phone Use
If you are fairly certain that the other driver was using their cell phone at the time of the accident, and you suspect this caused the accident in the first place, you’ll need to build a case to support your claim. Here’s a list of recommended actions to take to build a strong case:
- Get witness statements from other people involved in the accident or bystanders on the road or in other cars. This can corroborate your claim that the driver was on the phone if they saw it too.
- Plan to subpoena the phone records of the distracted driver, either personally or through your attorney, to prove they were on a call at the time of the accident
- Keep careful medical records in the wake of your accident so you have proof that the other driver’s distracted driving led to your injuries, if any
- Keep a careful record of all damage your property sustained in the accident and any other related losses, such as missing work due to recovery time
Obviously, many of these steps will overlap with what you should do in the wake of any car accident that caused you injury or damaged your property. The difference here, however, is the focus on gathering evidence that shows the other driver’s negligence was the cause — specifically, their choice to fiddle with their phone while behind the wheel.
Car Crashes and Cell Phones: Seriously Dangerous
Driving while distracted is seriously dangerous. Car crashes due to cell phones statistics reveal just how dangerous, and the percentage of car crashes caused by cell phones that end up being fatal crashes is simply too high — there were nearly 500 fatalities across the entirety of 2016 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with the vast majority of them involving teenagers and young adults.
As mentioned earlier, it’s illegal to text and drive in Texas. This is true of almost every state in the union. Also, if you’re under 18 you’re banned from using any electronic device while driving and you also can’t use any devices like that during the first six months after you’ve received your learner’s permit.
Regardless of whether it’s legal for you to use your phone while driving, it’s still a dangerous choice to make. This is true whether you’re using your handset directly, if you’re on speaker, or if you’re using a hands-free device like a Bluetooth headset. If you’re lucky, you’ll be caught and only issued a ticket. If you were on your phone while an accident occurred — and your phone use was the cause of the accident — you’ll be wishing the only thing you had to do was pay off a ticket!