Hundreds of thousands of people are injured every year in automobile crashes that are caused by distracted driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in 2012 alone, 421,000 people were hurt in distracted driving types of accidents. “Distraction” has been determined to be a factor in 12 percent of vehicle crashes in 2004. By 2008 that figure had risen to more than 16 percent. According to a 2011 Louisiana State University study over 2000 accidents in Louisiana resulted from cell phone distractions, and over 500 resulted from texting distractions. Teenagers are not the only drivers prone to texting or talking on their phones while driving. Still, almost every study that has focused on distracted driving indicates that, as a group, teenagers engage in this behavior more often than more experienced drivers.
Insurance giant, Allstate has begun a campaign where they tour the country with a driving simulator that is designed to highlight the dangers of using a phone while driving. Participants are asked to drive a stationary simulator while texting and/or talking on the phone as a way to experience the dangers of distracted driving without actual risk to the participants. Most participants find that the simulator has taught them how significant cell phone distractions can be. During the tour last year, Allstate surveyed more than 1700 people. More than one third of the participants said that they text and drive at least some of the time. One in two drivers said that they talk on the phone while driving. Thirty six percent of people polled stated that they have been involved in an accident where the cause was due to a distracted driver. Eighty seven percent of people polled stated that they believe texting and distracted driving is as dangerous, or even more dangerous, than drinking and driving.
In Louisiana, new laws have been put in place to increasingly punish distracted drivers. All drivers in Louisiana are strictly prohibited from texting while driving. Text messaging fines are up to $175 (first offense) and then $500 for an offense after that. Louisiana’s text messaging and cell phone laws have been recently made “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. In other words, if the officer sees you texting, he or she may immediately issue a citation. As of last year, Louisiana has also banned engaging in all forms of “social media” while driving. There is no handheld cell phone prohibition for most drivers in Louisiana. The exception is that school bus drivers and novice drivers in Louisiana — drivers under the age of 18 — or drivers with a learner’s permit, are prohibited from using cell phones (handheld or hands-free) while driving. The United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, spoke in favor of Louisiana’s new law: “This sends a clear message: texting and driving don’t mix.”
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the carelessness of a distracted driver or from any other automobile related crash, learn about your legal rights from an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney by filling out our free, no obligation case review form located on this website.