Cell Phones & Driving: Is It Illegal to Talk and Drive?

Distracted driving is increasingly becoming a major safety concern on American highways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were a total of 3,450 distracted driving-related fatalities in 2016. Of that total, 486 drivers were using a cell phone and driving. With the proliferation of distracted driver incidents, state laws are constantly dealing with the question of whether it’s illegal to talk on the phone while driving. States all vary in details regarding cell phone use while driving In this article, we’ll discuss what distracted driving looks like and some consequences resulting from it. 

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving happens when the driver engages with activities outside of driving the vehicle. As a result, the driver momentarily directs their attention away from the road. There are three types of distracted driving:

  • Cognitive distraction: Cognitive distraction involves a driver taking their mind off the act of driving. They could be daydreaming, thinking about a work conflict, speaking with another passenger, or even listening to an audio podcast. Essentially anything that distracts the driver’s mind from being completely aware of their surroundings could become a cognitive distraction.
  • Visual distraction: Anything that detracts the driver’s eyes from the road would be considered a visual distraction. This can include things like checking your phone on your dashboard, peering at your GPS, or glancing at your entertainment system.
  • Manual distraction: This type of distraction occurs when a driver takes either one or both hands off the steering wheel. Eating, drinking, texting, or adjusting the radio are some examples of manual distractions.

The danger with using a cell phone and driving is the fact that it can encompass all three of these types. Even a momentary distraction can cause significant consequences.

The Many Consequences

The consequences of distracted driving can come in many forms. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Traffic citations: Is talking on the phone while driving illegal? The answer will depend on which state you’re in. Currently, there are 20 states as well as D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands that have a hand-held cellphone ban while driving. Nearly all states ban text messaging for all drivers. Fines will depend on your state but can range anywhere from $50 to $500+ for first-time offenders. 
  • Suspended license: Suspension of license will typically happen for more serious distracted driving offenses. Repeat offenders will also have a higher likelihood of getting their license suspended.
  • Higher insurance premiums: Not only must you pay a hefty fine if caught distracted while driving, but your insurance premiums will also likely go up. Depending on the state you’re in, your insurance premiums could go up as much as 41% after a distracted driving ticket.
  • Cause an accident: You’re not only putting yourself in danger when driving distracted, you could be putting others around you at danger too. Damages to property, nearby cars, or pedestrians, could all be avoided if your attention was simply on the road. 
  • Injuries and fatalities: As mentioned, fatalities on American roads occur regularly each year due to distracted driving. In addition, an estimated 391,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving in 2015. Those between the ages of 20-29 are most likely to be involved in fatalities due to the usage of a cell phone and driving.

Get Involved—Save Lives

Distracted driving and cell phone usage goes beyond the question of whether it’s illegal to be on your phone while driving. It’s about saving lives. Distracted driving accidents and deaths are fully preventable. As technology continually advances, it will no doubt become more and more integrated within our lives. The momentary decisions we make while driving can have lasting consequences. Here are some tips to help become less distracted while driving:

  • Eat and drink before driving.
  • Turn off your cell phone and put it somewhere inaccessible.
  • Plan your trip in advance to avoid relying solely on your GPS.
  • Pull over if you need to address your children.
  • Focus on the road and do not be distracted by billboards or various activities taking place off-road.
  • If something drops in your car, leave it until you’ve fully parked and are safe.
  • Adjust your radio settings, seat height, and mirrors before driving.

Contact A Car Accident Attorney

Injuries can be extremely serious when the other driver is not paying attention to the road while driving. Broken bones, brain injury, soft tissue injury, and fractures could result from this kind of accident.  If you were injured due to a distracted driver, don’t wait to contact a car accident attorney for legal representation. An experienced attorney will help investigate your case, go through police reports, and interview key witnesses. Tactics such as obtaining cell phone or data records can be utilized to prove the driver was at fault.  State laws all vary in their distracted driving laws. Whether you can talk on the phone while driving will depend on which state you live in. A car accident attorney for your state will be well-versed in the particular nuances of distracted driving laws and can answer the question of whether it is illegal to talk on the phone and drive. They’ll work with you to assess the strength of your case and determine what your best legal options are.

Valiente Mott

Valiente Mott is a Las Vegas personal injury attorney firm committed to fighting for those injured through the negligence of other drivers. We’ve represented numerous victims and helped them obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation! 

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