Texting While Driving Leads to Fatal Car Accidents and Serious Legal Consequences

With the summer driving season in high gear, experienced car accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are warning drivers about the dangers of texting while driving. Distracted driving leads to thousands of serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths every year, and these accidents are easily avoided. Although there is no national texting ban, most states have passed anti-texting laws that carry serious legal consequences for negligent drivers when violated.

As personal handheld devices have risen in popularity, the number of car accident injuries and deaths caused by texting has also increased. National studies have shown that drivers who text are six times more likely to get into a car accident. Teen drivers are most likely to injure themselves and others in a texting-related car crash, because nearly 90 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. But many adults are also guilty of dangerous distracted driving, putting all motorists at risk. When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, even for a couple of seconds, an auto accident is likely to happen.

Research suggests that drivers who send and receive text messages while driving respond slower to brake lights and changing road conditions. They are also more likely to take their hands off the wheel while driving, another dangerous driving practice.

Although 33 states around the nation, including Illinois, have taken legislative steps to curb texting while driving, the problem remains. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nearly 5,500 people died last year in accidents that involved distracted driving. These accidents accounted for 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2010, up from 10 percent in 2005.

In Illinois, texting while driving is illegal and violators are fined $120.00. In addition, Illinois drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from using wireless cell phones while driving. Cell phone distractions caused more than 500 Illinois car crashes in the first half of 2010, according to preliminary data from the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. This level of injury and loss is unacceptable, especially because negligent crashes caused by careless drivers are easily preventable.

Distracted driving also results in the most serious form of auto accident, namely pedestrian accidents. In California, 2-year-old Calli Murray and her mother were crossing the street, holding hands, when 18-year old Kaitlyn Dunaway ran them over. An investigation revealed that Dunaway was texting on her cell phone when the fatal accident occurred. Similar accidents occur each and every day on our nation’s roadways. The National Safety Council estimates that drivers talking on a cell phone or texting cause an accident every 26 seconds.

The legal consequences of texting and driving are serious. Although some car accident cases are settled out of court, our experienced car accident lawyers have also seen many of these cases go to trial. Last year, a Texas A&M University student found guilty of texting while driving was ordered to pay $22 million to the family of the student he killed in a head-on collision. Juries are likely to impose harsh civil liabilities on distracted drivers whose negligence causes a fatal or serious crash. Texting while driving is dangerous, and in many states, it is illegal. Drivers should not sacrifice their own safety and the safety of other motorists to send or answer a text message while driving. Even a few seconds of distracted driving is likely to lead to fatal results.

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