A published University of California study reveals that smartphone use in drivers between the ages of 30 and 64 skyrocketed during the pandemic, especially for work-related activities.
The new research highlights that this age group finds it hard to separate working from home from their active lifestyles and, since most of these drivers try to combine the so-called working remotely with taking care of other things at the same time, they are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident, especially because they feel a strong pressure to respond to work calls while driving.
“Research reveals that most drivers admit that they routinely use their smartphones for work-related activities while driving, even when carrying children as passengers in the car,” explained Dr. Linda Hill, Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health of the University of California, San Diego, and a co-author of the study.
Using the phone while driving is dangerous, even with a hands-free device. Experts point out that more than one in four traffic accidents in the United States are caused by the use of mobile phones, according to the National Safety Council.
A driver’s risk of an accident is eight times higher if he is texting, and despite sounding safe, talking hands-free makes drivers four times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Previous studies on driving distractions have focused primarily on teenagers and young people. Although, as this new study indicates, adult driver’s smartphone usage has outpaced that of the millennial group considerably, since this age group spends most of their time on smartphones not only calling, but also using video conferencing and work-related apps, texting, and checking email.
The results of this new study revealed that three out of four participants use their mobile phones through hands-free devices, and almost 90 percent of them consider themselves capable or very capable of talking on the phone or checking other apps while driving.
Similarly, less than 30 percent of the participants knew that speaking hands-free increases the risk of an accident to the same degree as driving within the legal alcohol limit.
In this sense, the researchers were surprised to discover that the presence of children in the car does not affect the behavior of drivers, who continue to use their smartphones when they carry children as passengers.
In 2020, the total number of motor vehicle traffic accidents on Texas highways was 548,678. Of those, 104,250, or 19%, involved a distracted driver, an increase of 8% compared to the previous year. Out of the total number of Texas accidents involving a distracted driver, there were 495 deaths, and 3,129 people were seriously injured.
On September 1, 2017, a state law took effect making it illegal for drivers to read, write, or send a text while driving. Law enforcement agents look for drivers with their heads down, distracted by their cell phones.
What the law says
Most states have enacted some kind of law or regulation that prohibits distracted driving. The general definition of what constitutes “distracted driving” in a way that would make it illegal is that the driver is doing something that has no relation to the obligations associated with the act of driving a vehicle and impairs his ability to drive safely.
The details of these laws vary from state to state. Some states have gone out of their way to prohibit certain distractions known in their statutes like reading, writing, grooming, makeup, etc.
The most common distracted driving laws, as expected, revolve around the use of the smartphone. These laws also vary from place to place. Some prohibit any use of a mobile phone while driving. Other laws may be specifically intended for specific groups of people, such as bus drivers or “novice” drivers, which generally refer to drivers under the age of 18.
Texting while driving within the state of Texas is punishable by a fine of $25-99 for first-time offenders, and $100-200 for repeat offenders (though no points will be assigned). This law also states that if an accident caused by texting and driving results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year (in addition to any other charges/punishments).
Section 545.4251 of the Texas Transportation Code – “Use of Portable Wireless Communication Device for Electronic Messaging; Offense”
“Electronic message” means data that is read from or entered into a wireless communication device to communicate with another person.
An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.
The use of mobile phones is the most frequent distraction from Texas drivers.
Sending or receiving a text message causes drivers to take their attention off the road for an average period of 4.6 seconds.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), drivers who use a mobile phone are four times more likely to cause an accident resulting in a serious injury.
While the use of mobile phones is the most recognizable driving distraction, any type of behavior that draws the attention of a motorist away from driving is dangerous.
It is important that driving safety is the top priority for Texas drivers. This means employees separating work from non-work activities and eliminating as many distractions as possible, including texting or talking on the phone. While it is not illegal for civil motorists to talk on the phone while driving, they need to do it safely. Wait until you are at a stop to make a call or let it ring and return the call if necessary. If possible, invest in a hands-free device to make your mobile phone use safer while driving.
Don’t text and drive, it’s a crime in Texas.
What can be done
If you are injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the team of car accident attorneys at PMR Law. We have the experience to handle your case and help you receive the compensation you deserve. Please contact our personal injury attorneys at PMR Law where our team of experienced attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Please contact us at 832-667-7700 or text our attorneys directly at 832-438-3012.
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