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Distracted Driving: How Dangerous Are Cell Phones, Really?

(Excerpt from article written by Mark L. Steinberg)

"Since the mobile explosion that has occurred across America over the past decade, nearly everyone has a cell phone. The way people communicate has changed, and the largest difference can be attributed to text messaging. While this may have made communication more effective in our daily lives, it may have also made it more hazardous - at least according to personal injury attorneys and political pundits that point to the increase in cell phone related automobile accidents.

While texting-related crashes may have gone up in the past few years, it's hard to say whether cell phones themselves are responsible for the blame. First of all, the number of car accidents in the past 10 years has actually decreased. If texting alone were at fault for most of Florida's car accidents, the number of accidents would not be dropping as the use of text messaging becomes more prevalent.

Other evidence that texting is not to blame for traffic accidents can be found in several states that passed legislation banning texting while driving. Statistics show that a year after the ban, accident rates have not decreased. This means that either the ban was not adhered to by drivers, or that texting is not the root of the problem. A recent study supports the latter.

The study conducted by the Virginia Tech Institute for Highway Safety concluded that text messaging and mobile phone usage are not the cause of accidents, but rather, are just one way the cause comes about. According to the traffic study, the real culprit is distracted driving. Distracted driving is a form of driving negligence where the vehicle operator is focused on something other than the road. This includes playing with the radio, talking to a passenger, looking out the window, and eating or drinking.

Let's face it. Everyone is guilty of distracted driving -- and that includes myself, a personal injury lawyer. It's impossible to drive for any prolonged period without momentarily losing complete focus. The question here, however, is this: if not for texting, would people simply replace it with some other form of distraction? We're all only human, and our attention spans can only endure so long. If you can't engage yourself with a cell phone, will you just turn to another vice, like the ipod? Follow this line of thinking a little further down the road - what if no electronic devices were allowed to be used while driving. Would this have more unintended consequences, i.e., more drivers falling asleep at the wheel?

No matter what distractions are out there, the fact remains that driving is dangerous. If you're not always careful you're liable to be involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, not everyone can be careful all the time. Accidents happen; and if you or a loved-one are unlucky enough to be involved in one, it's always a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Consulting with a personal injury lawyer can help to provide you the best opportunity to get your health -- and life -- back on track. The injury attorney can help assure that you don't have to pay for medical treatment, and can do a lot to see that you are compensated for other damages caused by the accident (such as lost wages)."



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