According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver inattention is one of the major factors that contributes to serious car accidents, including fatal car wrecks.
Dallas Car Wreck Due to texting & driving – Report by 1800 Car Wreck Lawyers
Dallas, TX — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver inattention is one of the major factors that contributes to serious car accidents, including fatal car wrecks. Driver inattention is defined as any activity that distracts a driver from the road, and greatly increases the chances of an auto accident due to lack of focus. Examples of driver inattention include talking on a mobile phone, talking to a passenger in the vehicle, looking for familiar landmarks, applying makeup, eating, searching for lost items, and texting. Anything that draws your focus from the road, or forces you take your hands off the steering wheel can have fatal consequences.
And while texting has become an accepted part of daily living, driving and texting can be a fatal combination. Let’s take a look at some recent texting-related car accidents in the Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston area, delve into some relevant statistics about this issue, and some of the ways to prevent accidents resulting from texting while driving.
Houston Texting-Related Accident
In March of this year, three Houston-area teenage girls were killed as they were headed home from a spring break vacation on South Padre Island. According to a report filed the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), there were four passengers in the vehicle: Brianna Robinson, her sister, Jade Robinson, Brittanie Johnson, and Shelby Coleman. Brianna, Jade and Brittanie were all killed when their vehicle, a Hyundai Elantra, ran off the highway then over-corrected back onto the road, straight into the path of an 18-wheeler coming from the opposite side.
Although the accident report didn’t identify who was driving, the report did indicate that the driver had taken her eyes off the wheel to check the map navigation on her mobile phone. Coleman, who survived the auto accident, was taken to a local hospital for treatment, where she was pronounced in critical but stable condition. The driver of the 18-wheeler was not hurt in the accident.
Stacey Robinson, the mother of Brianna and Jade, expressed her profound grief at the situation. In an interview with KHOU, she said, “I want to know what happened. I want to know why they lost control. I don’t know, I want to know.”
Officials of the Texas DPS said that distracted driving, which is often used interchangeably with driver inattention is the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. That’s one of the reasons the Texas DPS instituted a mandatory policy that all teenage drivers who apply for a new license must complete a safety course related to distracted driving.
Meanwhile, Stacey Robinson and the families of Brittanie Johnson and Shelby Coleman, are left to grapple with the pain, loss, and confusion that results from auto accidents that cause injury and death.
Dallas/Ft. Worth Texting-Related Accident
Another example of a text-related fatal auto accident occured in April in Argyle. A Nissan Rogue driven by 26-year-old Ashlie Morgan, was headed south on U.S. Highway 377 where the speed limit is 60 mph. According to a report issued by the Denton Police Department, the SUV careened into the northbound lane, straight into an oncoming Volvo XC60 driven by Emma Lourdes Shaffer, whose age was not revealed. Morgan’s daughter, 4-year-old Lorelei Cotter was also in the vehicle at the time of the crash, as was Shaffer’s 12-year-old daughter, Emma L. Shaffer. All four passengers were taken to local hospitals where they died of injuries suffered during the collision.
Police reported that neither vehicle showed any signs of equipment or mechanical failure, nor was alcohol or drugs a factor. However, police reported that they believed Morgan was either talking or looking at her cell phone moments before her vehicle crossed lanes into the path of the Volvo. “We cannot discount that cell phone usage is a possible factor in this crash,” the report said.
According to a report issued by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving was responsible for the auto accident deaths of 3,179 people in 2014, and accounted for 431,000 injuries. In addition, 10 percent of drivers aged 15 to 19 were involved in fatal car wrecks that were a direct result of driver inattention, by far the largest percentage for all age groups.
And while texting is not the only form of distracted driving, it is by far the most common way in which motorists lose focus on the road, and also the most dangerous, because it requires drivers to not only take their eyes off the road, but to manually input information into a device. The explosion of mobile device technology has played a large part in changing the behavior of drivers – especially young drivers – who believe that they can multi-task even when they’re behind the wheel.
This is borne out by some startling numbers regarding mobile phone and texting use. According to the NHTSA, the number of people who actively used text-messaging increased by 2.2 percent in 2014, and younger drivers – defined as motorist aged 16 to 24 – were far more likely to text-message than drivers with more experience.
A recent State Farm Insurance study found that 80 percent of all drivers owned a smartphone, but the largest increase in ownership was among people 40 or older, even though that age group does not utilize mobile phones while driving nearly as much as younger drivers.
And despite the numerous public awareness campaigns about texting-related accidents, and cell phone-related accidents, a 2015 survey conducted by Erie Insurance revealed that 33 percent of all drivers sent text messages while behind the wheel, and 75 percent responded that they had observed other motorists texting while driving. In that same survey, respondents admitted to various forms of distracted driving, including brushing their teeth and changing their clothes.
A recent AT&T survey revealed in more detail the diverse ways drivers use their mobile phones, including video chats, live video recording, selfies, and posting messages on social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. The prevailing sentiment among younger drivers appears to be that multitasking is a part of daily life, but some statistics may dampen that enthusiasm.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has reported that texting while driving increases the chances of an auto accident as much as eight times, and that accidents that were directly caused by text-messaging or chatting on a mobile phone, represented 27 percent of all accidents on the road.
The NSC also reported that deaths from auto accidents continue to rise. From January to June 2015, there were 18,630 fatal car crashes, which was a 14 percent increase over the same six-month period in 2014. And the numbers for non-fatal accidents are also trending upward, with 2.3 million injuries sustained over the same six-month period in 2015, a 30 percent increase from the same period in 2014.
Many cities have attempted to lower the number of texting-related accidents by passing laws that ban drivers from text-messaging while driving, or speaking on a mobile phone without a hands-free device, but some gaps exist.
For example, although 60 cities in Texas have banned all texting while driving, and banned the use of any handheld device, including tablets, phones, and gaming consoles while driving, large cities such as Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth, do not ban texting and driving.
However, Texas has passed a statewide law that bans all drivers from using handheld mobile devices in school zones. The law also bans school bus drivers from texting or speaking on a mobile phone while driving, even if that device has a hands-free option. New drivers are also banned from text-messaging and talking on a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle.
Many cities have allied with the NHTSA to sponsor public awareness programs about the dangers of texting and driving, especially targeting younger drivers who are more likely to engage in the practice. The official NHTSA guidelines to reduce the incidents of distracted driving were released in 2013, and included the recommendation to disable mobile phone options such as video-conference while a vehicle is in operation, and disable all incoming text messages, web pages, and social media content.
Drivers can download applications that automatically disable the texting function on their mobile phones while they are driving. These apps can also send automatic messages that a recipient is driving and will text back when able to do so.
In addition, there is a growing movement known as the “designated texter,” in which a passenger in the vehicle is chosen to send and respond to all text messages, that has caught on among younger drivers.
Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer
Drivers in the Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth area who have been involved in an accident that was caused by a motorist who was distracted by texting or by talking on a hand-held phone, should think about consulting a personal injury lawyer to determine if they can take legal action. A personal injury lawyer can review all elements of a car accident, and recommend the best way to obtain compensation for pain and suffering, and loss of income.
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