A Smartphone Can Help You Live Your Life. A Smartphone Also Might End It.

smartphoneA smartphone used the right way in the right place and time can be a life saver. It can help you get to that Council Bluffs job interview on time. You can use it to book your flight for your vacation. Your daughter can call you because she’s stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire.

In the hands of a distracted driver a smartphone could also be the reason you’re unconscious and in the back of an ambulance. 

Distracted driving cost an estimated 3,477 lives in 2015 lost in motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and injuring another 391,000. Distracted driving is any action that diverts attention from a driver, including using a smartphone.  

NHTSA sees texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds. At 55 miles per hour during that time you’ve driven about the length of a football field without seeing where you’re going. During daylight hours about 660,000 drivers use cell phones while driving, according to NHTSA.  

More than a quarter of all vehicle accidents are caused by cell phone use, according to a 2014 estimate by the National Safety Council. It stated 26% of such accidents involved phones with an estimated 5% of crashes has drivers texting and 21% in which drivers talked on handheld or hands-free cell phones. 

Though all kinds of drivers use smartphones while driving, younger drivers are especially prone to doing it. In 2011 NHTSA surveyed 6,000 drivers 18 and older from all fifty states and the District of Columbia about distracted driving.  

  • Drivers under the age of 24 are much more likely to text while driving (44% to 49%) than older drivers, and  
  • About two-thirds of young drivers 18 to 20 (68%) answer phone calls and continue to drive. 

Though it’s distracting when a driver is holding a smartphone to make a call or use it, hands-free devices aren’t much safer, according to a 2009 article in the Journal of Safety Research. A review of studies on the issue concludes that talking on a smartphone, regardless of the type, has negative impacts on driving performance especially in detecting and identifying events around the driver. Performance while using a hands-free phone was rarely better than when using a handheld phone.  

A major benefit to owning a smartphone is the ability to use apps. The downside is that it’s another thing for drivers to focus on while behind the wheel. While some apps can be used through voice recognition others may require the phone to be touched and swiped. Some navigation apps designed to help us get where we want to go can also distract us. Some drivers involved in high speed crashes broadcast their dangerous antics on live video streamed on social media apps. 

A smartphone is a tool. It can be very useful and help you get things done.

But in the hands of a distracted driver it can cause a serious accident that can permanently disable or kill. We all need to use them responsibly and safely or we may find ourselves chatting away one moment and unconscious the next. 

If you or a family member have been injured or killed in a vehicle accident involving a driver distracted by a smartphone, contact Walter Thomas at the Telpner Peterson Law Firm LLP, located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, today at (712) 325-9000. We can discuss your case, how the law may apply and what you can do to protect your legal rights and obtain compensation for your injuries. 

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