Distracted Driving

Texting and talking while drivingIn the United States, in 2011, 387,000 people were injured and 3,331 people were killed in car or truck crashes involving a distracted driver. Distracted driving includes texting, using a cell phone, grooming, watching videos, adjusting audio, etc. Texting while driving is by far the worst of the dangers because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver. Texting increases your crash risk 6 times. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent—at 55 mph—of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. Driving while simply talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving drunk. It reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37% and increases your risk of a crash by 4 times. Nearly half of the distracted driving crashes in Utah, in 2011, were rear end crashes. See www.DISTRACTION.GOV, official US Government Website for Distracted Driving & Utah 2011 Crash Summary.

Using cellular phones while driving is a significant cause of car and truck crashes and other accidents in the United States. These car and truck crashes are causing significant injuries and death to those who share the roads with us. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous. In 2010, the National Safety Council estimated that at least 28% of all crashes – or at least 1.6 million crashes — each year involve drivers using cell phones and texting. www.nsc.org. Drivers who use a cell phone – either handheld or hands-free – are 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash. According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, “Thousands of deaths each year are due to cell phone-related crashes” and the “annual costs of crashes by cell phone use was estimated at $43 billion in 2003.” National Safety Council, Cell Phone Fact Sheet.

Put Your Phone Down Green Road Sign with Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sun.According to a University of Utah study, simply conversing on a cell phone while driving, results in “significant slowing in the response to simulated traffic signals, as well as an increase in the likelihood of missing these signals.” Talking on a cell phone while driving, “disrupts the driver’s attention to the visual environment.” The authors of the University of Utah study concluded that “when drivers talk on a cell phone, their reactions to imperative events (e.g., braking in response to traffic lights or a decelerating vehicle) were significantly slower than when they were not talking on the cell phone. . . . Cell phone drivers were more likely to miss traffic signals and often failed to se billboards and other signs in the driving environment. . . . Talking on a cell phone creates a form of inattention blindness, making drivers less aware of important information in the driving scene. ” The authors also found that “driving performance was more impaired when drivers were conversing on a cell phone than when these same drivers were legally intoxicated.” University of Utah, Department of Psychology, Why Do Cell Phone Conversations Interfere With Driving?, David L. Strayer, Frank A. Drews, Dennis J. Crouch and William A. Johnston.

Drivers who are talking on their phones while driving, or even worse – texting while driving – are causing needless danger to each of us and the ones we love. For example, in March, 2013, Dave Henson was killed because of a driver who was texting while driving. Dave and his wife, Leslee Henson were jogging along a road in St. George when they were hit by a car that was hit by a texting driver. Dave Henson was killed. His wife, Leslee Hanson, suffered significant injuries. According to news reports, she had over 3,000 stitches and staples in her head. She said: “I was basically put back together, my head was a jigsaw puzzle.” Leslee and her daughter have started a movement to stop drivers from texting and riving. You can learn more about that movement at www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org. The driver who caused the crash, reportedly, was arrested on a count of second degree automobile homicide involving using a handheld wireless communication device while driving.” View Utah Code.

Utah Cell Phone Law

In Utah, a person is guilty of careless driving if that person “commits a moving traffic violation . . . while being distracted by one or more activities taking place within the vehicle . . . including . . . (i) using a wireless telephone or other electronic device unless the person is using hands-free talking and listening features . . . ; (ii) searching for an item in an vehicle; or (iii) attending to personal hygiene or grooming.” Utah Code 41-6a-1715

Nevada Cell Phone Law

Nevada law states that a person shall not, while operating a motor vehicle, engage in, among other things, texting, emailing, or internet surfing. Nevada law also prohibits a person from talking on his or her cell phone while driving unless the phone can be used without using his or her hands. In Nevada, cell phone use is allowed while driving only if a hands-free accessory is employed throughout the call. NRS 484B.165

According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, there are more than 3,500 distracted-related crashes in the state every year, with more than 60 deaths reported in the past five years.

The under-reporting of fatal accidents caused by cell phones.
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