Texting While Driving
It is amazing what people will do in their vehicles—while they are supposed to be driving:
- Putting on make-up.
- Tying a tie.
- Putting on or taking off a sweater or jacket.
- Rubber-necking at an accident or some other roadside spectacle.
- Changing radio stations.
- Putting a new CD in the player.
- Chatting with passengers.
- Reaching for something on the ground.
- Talking on the telephone.
Fifty years ago, drivers could engage in some of the activities listed above. Fifteen years ago, drivers could engage in any of these activities. Today, they can do even more: the advent 3G and 4G handheld devices means that there are new distractions that have been added to the list of activities that inattentive drivers engage in:
- Surfing the web; and
- Reading e-mails.
Not only can drivers engage in these activities, but they too often do—and, frequently, with tragic results:
- In 2007, a California woman was paying her bills via her handheld device while driving. She slammed into a line of stopped cars, causing the one immediately in front of her to burst into flames, killing the driver. She was sentenced to six years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.
- In December 2010, on Ewing Avenue in South Chicago, a 70-year old man got into a fender-bender one morning. He stepped out of his car to inspect the damage and to call 911 when another motorist struck him; he later died from his injuries. Records indicate that the victim called 911 at 7:54 a.m. to report his accident. The Facebook page of the driver who struck him shows that an update to her page was made at that same time via her mobile device.
- In September 2010, a 77-year old Minnesota woman was hit in a head-on collision by an 18-year-old girl who swerved over the center line. The young woman’s phone records indicated that she sent and received a series of 15 text messages in the period immediately preceding the accident. In addition to sustaining very serious injuries herself, she was charged with gross negligence and vehicular homicide, carrying a penalty of up to ten years in prison.
- In September 2012, a Texas woman was texting while driving and hit a culvert, flipping her car several times before she got pinned in the overturned car against a tree. The car caught fire, and she was trapped in the burning car for over 20 minutes, leaving her with 3rd and 4th degree burns over 70% of her body. Although she survived, she had over 30 surgeries over the space of two years. She now speaks out against texting and driving.
The National Safety Council estimates that about 24 percent of all traffic crashes—which is the equivalent of 1.2 million accidents per year—are linked to motorists texting or speaking on their cell phones.Driving While Texting is Illegal in Illinois
Texting while driving can be as dangerous as—actually, more dangerous than—drunk driving. An informal test carried out by Car & Driver Magazine put a driver behind the wheel of a car under different scenarios, including texting, to find out how much these different activities affected different braking reaction times. The results were sobering:
- When the driver was undistracted and sober, it took .54 seconds to apply the brakes;
- When the driver was legally drunk (0.08% BAC), his breaking distance increased by 4 feet;
- When he was reading an e-mail, the distance was an additional 32 feet (36 feet total);
- When he was texting, the braking distance was an additional 24 feet (70 feet total).
Since 2009, it has been illegal in Illinois to text and drive at the same time. Specifically, Illinois law states:
- “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send, or read an electronic message.”
The only exceptions are: if the sole purpose of texting is to report to or continue communicating to emergency personnel in an emergency situation; if the device operates hands-free; if the driver is parked off of the roadway; or if the vehicle is completely stopped due to a traffic obstruction, and the vehicle gearshift is in neutral or park. In other words, texting while driving is only allowed when you are not actually supposed to be driving.
The dangers of texting and operating a motor vehicle at the same time cannot be underestimated. Thirteen percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 involved in car accidents admitted to texting or using their cell-phones at the time the accident occurred—and that is just those who admitted the fault. And while it should hardly come as a surprise to anyone with sense that doing anything else besides paying attention to the road and other traffic is extremely dangerous while driving, sadly, many young drivers are dramatically overconfident of their driving abilities: 55 percent of young adults think it is easy to text and drive at the same time, and 77 percent of them are confident that they can safely do so. One hopes that many of them will learn the truth before they—or other unfortunately users of the roadways—prove them tragically wrong.If You Have Been Injured or Someone You Love Has Been Injured or Killed or Injured by a Texting Driver, Contact the Attorneys at Abels & Annes
Any type of vehicle accident is unpleasant for the people involved, and accidents that lead to injuries or fatalities make them even more devastating. Sometimes accidents are almost unavoidable: icy roads, faulty brakes, low visibility from fog or rain, or a tree that has fallen across the road. But other types of accidents are completely avoidable.
It is estimated that nearly 100,000 drivers crash each year while texting. But it is not just their own lives they are risking. When an accident is caused by the careless and thoughtless actions of someone who chooses to text while they are driving, there are almost no words to describe the anguish of injured parties or their families, or the loved ones of those who have been killed by the texting driver’s carelessness. Can any message ever be important enough to risk an innocent person’s life?
While state laws can redress the criminal aspects of such negligence and recklessness, it is up to individual citizens to enforce civil justice by making sure that those who cause such harm pay for the injuries and damage they cause. The Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes strongly feel that those who cause injuries by such behavior should be made to confront the seriousness of their negligence, and we welcome the opportunity to represent those who have been injured or harmed in an accident caused by motorists who were texting and driving.
At Abels & Annes, we know what our clients go through. We have represented drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others who have been injured by a driver’s negligence or recklessness. When we take a case, we do our best to make sure that our clients receive all the damages they are entitled to, to try to make their lives whole again after suffering devastating injuries, including serious and debilitating spinal and head injuries. And when it comes to going after drivers who cause accidents by texting and driving, we will also pursue punitive damages, when appropriate.
If you have been injured, or someone you love has been killed or injured by a driver who was engaged in texting at the time of the accident, contact Abels & Annes at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442), or locally in Chicago at (312) 924-7575, or use our online form right here on this website.
If you have been injured due to texting while driving, call Abels & Annes, P.C. today at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online for a free case consultation.