A study conducted earlier this year affirmed that dialing, texting or reaching for a cellphone while driving increased the risk of a crash or near-miss collision, especially for younger drivers. The study, conducted by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, involved the use of a number of video cameras, global positioning systems, and devices measuring the lane position, speed, and acceleration of the test vehicles. Approximately four dozen newly-licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 participated in the study, as well as over 100 adults with years of experience behind the wheel. The results showed that young drivers were more than seven times more likely to be involved in a collision or near-miss when they were dialing or reaching for a cellphone and four times more likely if they were sending or receiving a text message.
The study also showed the risk for a collision or near-miss increased for older drivers only when they were dialing a cellphone. Interestingly, the study did not note any increased risk from merely talking on a phone. But researchers are quick to point out that this study did not distinguish between talking on a handheld device and talking on a hands-free device.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Both the federal and state governments have made efforts in recent years to curb distracted driving because of the increased risk of a collision. Drivers whose eyes, hands, and/or minds are elsewhere and not on the road may not be able to see hazards in time to react to them, or they may find themselves unintentionally drifting into other lanes of traffic. Especially in the case of young drivers (who do not have the experience to know how to properly react to sudden hazards), a distracted driver who suddenly becomes aware of a hazard may slam on his or her brakes or overcorrect the vehicle, causing a collision. Or the distracted driver may not see a stopped car or pedestrian crossing the street until a collision has already occurred. Most know that catastrophic and life-threatening injuries can result from any car collision.
It is against the law in Massachusetts for any driver to text while driving, and newly licensed drivers are prohibited from using any cellphone while driving (regardless of whether the cellphone is handheld or hands-free). In addition to possible criminal penalties, a distracted driver may also be held liable for the medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages incurred by the person or persons who are injured in a collision. This is because distracted driving – driving without giving one’s full attention to the task of driving – is an example of negligence, or carelessness. And a driver who is careless and who injures another is liable to that other person for damages.
Distracted driving results in dangerous driving, which can lead to criminal penalties and sanctions as well as an increased risk for being involved in a car collision. Contact us today at (508) 755-7535 for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver.