Are cell phones causing a spike in traffic deaths?

A recent statistic bears some bad news: Traffic deaths in the United States rose over nine percent in the first three quarters of last year. The cause was not specifically identified. Given the ubiquitous nature of cell phones, however, it may be a smart bet to assume they played a role. 

As a law firm that helps victims of motor vehicle accidents, we find the news particularly upsetting in two regards. First, Alabama has a state law banning texting while driving. What’s more, drivers under 18 years of age with an intermediate license less than six months are prohibited from all cell phone use. The law is a primary law, permitting police to pull over a driver for a violation on this ground alone. However, due to frequent violators, at least one study has questioned whether such laws actually make the state’s roads and highways safer. 

The news is also upsetting in light of recent improvements in driving technology. Safety features like antilock brakes and all-wheel drive, driver and passenger airbags, driver’s education classes, and other influences might all share in improved traffic safety. In fact, U.S. traffic deaths have been in a declining trend for years. For that reason, last year’s reversal of that progress is particularly disheartening.

Federal officials are doing their part. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a series of regional meetings that will explore which driver choices might be contributing to the national increase in traffic deaths. For victims who have already been injured by texting and driving, however, a personal injury attorney may be the best choice. An attorney can help build a case to persuade a civil jury to find the defendant liable. 

Source:  Insurance Journal, “U.S. Traffic Deaths Up 9%,” Feb. 10, 2016

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