Texting while driving: unsafe and costly

It’s so convenient to look at your phone for driving directions, for last-minute change of plans text updates from friends and to check for that email you’ve been waiting for all day from a client.

And people are finding those same conveniences when they’re driving. Studies across the board show more and more drivers are interacting with their cell phones and smart phones while they’re behind the wheel.

And studies are also showing that crashes caused by our cell-phone addiction is on the rise.

It’s easy to blame drunk drivers as terrible decision makers and extremely dangerous drivers. But a July 2009 Virginia Tech study found text-messaging drivers were 23 times more likely to cause crashes than if they weren’t distracted.

And a 2003 University of Utah report suggested distracted drivers are more impaired than drunk drivers.

In the Valley, Phoenix and Tempe have specifically outlawed texting while driving (see Phoenix City Code 36-76.01). That means if an officer sees you using your phone to text while you’re behind the wheel, you’re going to get pulled over and possibly fined. And if you’re part of a crash, officers can look at your phone records to see if you were texting and therefore not looking at the road.

This happened near Lake Pleasant, where two women died as the result of a head-on vehicle crash. The cause of the crash was blamed on the younger driver, 19-year-old Ashley Miller, when police, who were looking for family contact information on her cell phone, discovered she sent a text message one minute before the 911 call came in.

If you are involved in a crash and believe the other driver was in some was distracted or impaired, get a personal injury lawyer to help you present your case.

Arizona state lawmakers have over the past few years made several attempts to make a texting-while-driving ban state-wide, but these attempts have all failed. However, lawmakers plan to raise the issue again during the next session.

What Arizona does have is a general distracted-driving law, meaning officers can pull over anyone they deem distracted, including if they see someone texting, eating, reading or doing personal hygiene while driving.

When driving out of state, be aware that six states- California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington- and Washington, D.C., required drivers to use a hands-free device, and 19 states and Washington, D.C., prohibited text messaging behind the wheel, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

If you get a text message while driving, take a moment to acknowledge that it can wait. And the world will indeed continue to spin if you don’t respond immediately.

A text message is never worth a life.

This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstance.