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Cell phones and driving do not mix. Yet it is almost irresistible for people to use their cell phones while driving. Some technologic advances have been made to develop hands-free calling to minimize risk of distraction from dialing.
Chances are these have helped avoid some car accidents. But distracted driving from use of cell phones for texting and social media has more than offset any advances from hands free technology.
Delaware banned use of hand-held phones while driving in 2012. But this has not deterred many drivers from using their cell phones. The Delaware office of Highway Safety has noted that in the past five years distracted driving crashes have skyrocketed. From 2013 to 2017 there were 224 crashes involving a distracted driver using a cell phone. Sadly, seven of those crashes involved fatalities.
The trend is being repeated throughout the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2015, about ten percent of total highway deaths were related to distracted driving. Among twenty-somethings, that percentage is more than double the national average. About 27 percent of highway deaths among these young drivers are due to distracted driving.
There are some tell-tale signs of a driver using their cell phone. These include lane departures, running a stop sign, running a red light, or being slow to evade impact. Investigators look for these signs when evaluating the crash site.
In addition, crash investigations now include accounting for cell phones, and determining whether they were being used when the crash occurred. If there is probable cause that distraction factored into an accident, an investigating officer can get a court order to examine cell phone records. This allows them to determine if the device was in use during the crash, and reveals when text messages were sent or received.
A spokesperson from AAA Mid-Atlantic observed that more and more people recognize the dangers, yet they are still driving while distracted by using their cell phone. Delaware is planning on increasing its enforcement presence in order to reduce incidents of distracted driving.
In a recent enforcement campaign, unmarked vans on Route 1 in Dover were deployed to spot offending drivers. Thirty tickets for illegal phone use were issued over a two-month period.
In another campaign in Rehoboth Beach, officers wrote 16 citations for cell phone and safety belt infractions in just one afternoon. First offense fines are up to $100.00.
The Delaware Office of Highway Safety has granted funding to 14 police departments throughout the state for future patrols. These are considered necessary due to the excessive number of serious crashes being caused by cell phone use distraction.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact an experienced Delaware car accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. A free consultation can be scheduled by completing our online form or calling us at 302-427-9500. We serve clients throughout the state of Delaware from our offices in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, including the communities of Elsmere and Seaford.