Fox & Farley, Attorneys at Law

Driving While Texting Is a Leading Cause of Car Accidents

When we think about negligence leading to car accidents, our first thought is usually drunk driving. But alcohol is not the only vice that can negatively influence a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle in a safe and lawful manner. Texting while driving is also a major cause of auto accidents in Tennessee and throughout the country.

On April 5, the U.S. Department of Transportation launched a national advertising campaign designed to raise awareness of—and discourage—texting while driving. The “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign notes that over 3,100 people were killed in 2014 as the result of auto accidents attributed to distracted driving, a broad category that includes texting while driving. Despite these fatalities, the DOT said, “Seventy-one percent of young people say they have sent a text while driving.”And during daytime hours, the DOT estimates “more than 587,000 vehicles were being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.”

Driving With Texting Is Dangerous

Although you might think that texting while driving is not really a major distraction, even taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds to look at your phone can be deadly. A 2009 study by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that among drivers who operated long-haul trucks, the risk of a serious accident while texting “was 23 times greater than when not texting.” According to a New York Times article on the Virginia Tech report, “In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices—enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.”

Driving While Texting Is Illegal in Tennessee

Because of these risks many states, including Tennessee, have banned texting while driving in most circumstances. Under a 2009 law, Tennessee forbids anyone who operates a motor vehicle from using “a hand-held mobile telephone or a hand-held personal digital assistant to transmit or read a written message.” Texting while driving is considered a Class C misdemeanor, but violators only face a $50 fine plus nominal court costs.

The texting ban also does not apply to the use of a hand-held device to make or receive telephone calls. In fact, although many states prohibit any cell phone use while driving, Tennessee does not ban most drivers from talking on the phone while driving, with or without a “hands-free” device. However, Tennessee does prohibit cell phone use by any driver who only holds a learner’s permit or intermediate license.

Driving While Texting Is Negligent

As the Department of Transportation’s campaign illustrates, driving while texting is reckless and irresponsible, and leads to thousands of preventable auto accidents every year. And if you are injured in a car accident, the fact the other driver was driving while texting may prove negligence and entitle you to damages. An experienced Knoxville personal injury attorney can advise you on the best way to proceed following such an accident. Contact the offices of Fox & Farley, Attorneys at Law, if you need to speak with a Tennessee car accident attorney today.

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