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Cell Phone Use - Auto Accidents

In the United States over 190 million people used cell phones as of June 2005, compared with approximately 4.3 million in 1990, according to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.
Increased reliance on cell phones has led to a rise in the number of people who use the devices while driving. There are two dangers associated with driving and cell phone use. First, drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing. Second, people can become so absorbed in their conversations that their ability to concentrate on the act of driving is severely impaired, jeopardizing the safety of vehicle occupants and pedestrians. Since the first law was passed in California in 2001 banning hand-held cell phone use while driving, there has been debate as to the exact nature and degree of hazard. At first safety experts focused on the problem as part of the larger one of driver distractions in general. These can include anything that reduces driver concentration on road hazards from drinking coffee to talking with another passenger. Now there is increasing evidence that the dangers associated with cell-phone use outweigh those of other distractions. Safety experts also acknowledge that the hazard posed by cell phone conversations is not eliminated, and may even be increased, by the use of hands-free sets.

Car accidents are the leading cause of brain and spinal cord injury in the United States, accounting for approximately 60% of traumatic brain injuries. Motorcycle accidents claim responsibility for about 20% of transportation-related head injuries, and brain and spinal cord injuries occur to children most often when they are passengers in motor vehicles. With accident frequency on the rise, and the nature of accident-related injuries growing more serious, car accidents are often the subject of personal injury lawsuits and litigation. Current statistics reveal that fatal automobile crashes average 37,409 per year, with driver fatalities at 25,492 and passenger fatalities at 10,699. Most of these accidents are caused by simple driver error, often attributed to a lack of attention being paid to the road, traffic and surrounding conditions!

A study published in the National Safety Counsel's Injury Insights journal shows that cell phone users spend 60% of their phone time behind the wheel. Findings such as these have fueled the debate as to the dangers of cell phone usage while driving, and resulted in legislation banning cell phone use while driving in certain states. While only California, Florida and Massachusetts have laws which limit cell phone use while the vehicle is in motion, no state completely bans talking on the cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. California has just recently been added to this list by passing legislation, which bans drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.

Currently, car accident related deaths are at an all-time low of 1.5 deaths per every 100 miles driven. However, with an increasing number of teenager drivers climbing behind the wheel, and the dramatic increase in the use of gadgets that tend to distract drivers, today's motorist can never be too cautious. Further, as the size and speed of automobiles increases, so does the severity of impact between vehicles. Sport utility vehicles now dominate American roadways and, while these vehicles may provide additional safeguards to their operators, the size and weight of these vehicles can be devastating upon impact with a compact or economy-sized vehicle.

While many motorists are vigilant in paying attention to the road, and do not engage in distracting activities, they can nonetheless fall victim to negligent drivers. The occurrence of a serious auto accident often results in immediate, dramatic upheaval of all aspects of the victim's life. While some injuries may threaten the victim's life, those that merely jeopardize the general well-being or livelihood of a driver can also be devastating. Fortunately, there are people who can help -- medical professionals with specific training and experience in treating accident-related injuries, and attorneys who specialize in motor vehicle accident litigation. Accident victims and their family members must be vigilant in the protection of the victim's legal rights, and immediate and long-term medical care.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a traffic accident due to use of cell phone, you should consult with an experienced traffic accident lawyer.
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