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Cellphone use while driving on the rise during pandemic

texting and distracted driving

This year, technology has played a vital role in keeping people connected with friends and loved ones as the pandemic has canceled in-person events. Unfortunately, the use of technology at inappropriate times, such as while driving, has increased as well, with potentially deadly consequences.

A recent study by Zendrive analyzed 86,000 collisions across the United States, including both commercial and private drivers. Their findings were shocking. They discovered that a 57 percent majority of all crashes involved phone use in the 60 seconds prior to the collision. In particular, 16.8 percent of all crashes—about one in six—involved a driver using their phone less than five seconds before impact.

As Streetsblog USA pointed out, this problem has only gotten worse as the pandemic has gone on, contributing to an overall increase in crashes even as other types of dangerous driving, such as speeding, are down. Distracted driving is nothing new, of course, and this latest development is just an acceleration of a dangerous trend.

What makes cellphone use behind the wheel so dangerous?

In general, there are three types of distracted driving. Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. Cognitive or mental distractions take your mind off the task of safely operating your car.

Texting while driving, then, is particularly deadly because it combines all three types of distraction. Talking on a handheld phone while driving isn't as dangerous as texting. But it is still quite unsafe, since it's a manual and cognitive distraction. Using a hands-free device like a headset is still not safe. Your eyes are on the road and your hands on the wheel, but your mind is still distracted. That still puts you and others at an increased risk.

What's even worse is that the cognitive aspect of distraction lingers for some time after a driver puts the phone down. Reading or sending a text may only take a few seconds. That is still enough time to cause a crash. A driver who uses their phone behind the wheel is still at risk for a full minute or more, however.

From a safety perspective, Louisiana's laws don't go far enough

Louisiana bans all drivers from texting or using social media while driving. Handheld phone use is only banned under limited circumstances: in school zones, for drivers under 18, and drivers with learner's or intermediate licenses. From a safety perspective, that's not enough. Drivers assume that because talking on the phone while driving is legal, it's safe, but that's simply not the case. The best practice is always to wait until you arrive at your destination, or if the call can't wait, find a safe place to park or pull over first.

Whether traffic laws ban a specific type of phone use or not, victims of distracted driving have recourse through the civil justice system. To recover compensation from a distracted driver, you only need to prove that their carelessness or recklessness led to your injuries, not that they violated a specific traffic law. We have extensive experience investigating, gathering evidence, and building strong cases that hold distracted drivers accountable. We can send a strong message that on Louisiana roads, safety has to come first.

If you've been injured by a distracted driver, we'd be happy to meet with you for a free consultation. Trust a New Orleans car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC to protect your rights and fight for you every step of the way.

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