Texts that Kill

Within the U.S. there are currently 38 states that ban all cell phone use for “novice drivers” (a driver 18 years of age or younger) and 45 states that ban texting for all drivers. Yet, motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death among America’s youth age 5-35, evidence that distracted driving is a massive problem.

Cell phones, once massive blocks of plastic, are now sleek pocket-sized super computers, able to search dinner recipes, confirm a business meeting in Beijing, solidify your social standing with a new photo of your cat, and download the pre-release single of your favorite band’s new album, all while having a conversation with your Mom. With no end in site for the technological advancements of cellular devices, cars too are likely to only get more complex. Since 2014, several car manufacturers, including General Motors, Audi, and Chrysler, offer 4G connectivity Wi-Fi hotspots in several of their models, further enabling the use of mobile devices in vehicles.

It was one year ago that the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) launched its first nationwide Distracted Driving Enforcement and Advertising Campaign, rallying behind the slogan, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” A movement that established distracted driving as being on par with drunk driving and seat belt use. But is that enough?

The NHTSA launched campaign to promote distracted driving awareness
The NHTSA launched campaign to promote distracted driving awareness

Attorney Eric Hageman has handled multiple accident cases that involve distracted drivers, heartbreaking stories of people who have suffered immense harm some lost loved ones. These cases are as preventable as they are tragic. Eric explains, “Given that multiple studies have shown that drivers using cell phones have reaction times slower than even drunk drivers do, it is amazing that we aren’t doing more to solve this problem.  Would any of us feel safe driving around if we knew there were drunk drivers all over the roads?  Of course not. Yet for some reason many of us tolerate drivers using their cell phones on the road.”

In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration banned cell phone use by interstate, commercial truck drivers.

Addictive Properties of Texting

The numbers are out there, we’ve heard them before, during the time it takes to send one text (about 5 seconds), driving at a speed of 55 mph., your vehicle travels the length of a football field. You would never close your eyes for those 5 seconds while behind the wheel, yet 1 in 10 drivers admits to sending texts and emailing while driving.

Why do people repeatedly engage in a behavior that they know to be so dangerous?

Attitude is a contributing factor, feelings of invincibility, but there are other forces at work. As Eric explains, texting can be addictive, “Texting while driving is an addiction that some people simply can’t break on their own, even if they know how dangerous it is. But all of us can play a part in helping friends and family members break the addiction.”

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells, that is primarily is associated with reward, and plays an vital role in addiction. There are copious amounts of data proving the severity of internet addiction, and although there is inconclusive research as to role dopamine plays in cell phone use, many experts believe the reward felt by an individual when they receive a text message is akin to other traditional process addictions. Furthermore, because cell phones are often internet enabled, the theory persists that cell phone addiction is viable.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Distracted Driving Habits

Cell phone use is not the only dangerous habit drivers engage in. There are several other behaviors that can render a driver distracted.

  1. Eating and drinking – The driver runs a risk of spilling hot beverages, dripping sauces, and driving with greasy hands. Consuming food while operating a vehicle also lends itself to one-handed driving and encourages reaching for things within the car, all of which can be dangerous distractions.
  2. Grooming – All but a small percentage (between 2 and 3 percent) of the population experience a noticeable decline in performance when they try to do two or more things at once; therefore, although it may seem feasible to multi-task applying mascara at a stop light, the reality is this behavior takes away from time focusing on driving.
  3. Pets – What dog doesn’t love a romp in the car? We’ve seen the wagging tongues and tails with their heads out the window; however, unrestrained pets run a major risk of distraction, even if they are cute. Additionally, unrestrained pets can get lost in crashes.  It isn’t worth the risk. Don’t let your pet roam the car.
  4. Kids –  The AAA Foundation reports young children are four times more distracting as adults, while infants can be a whopping eight times more distracting. While you might want to reach around to comfort your screaming baby it is safer for you and other cars on the road to pull over before tending to your child.
  5. Driving drowsy – According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 41 percent of drivers say they’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point or another. That is an alarming number.
  6. Entertainment electronics – There are an abundance of potential distractions surrounding vehicle entertainment electronics, radio dials, DVD dials, satellite radio, iPod controllers, etc. Fiddling with these controls may seem minor, but when traveling at highway speeds even a few seconds with your eyes off the road can result in fatalities.
  7. Outside car distractions – As a driver, one must also be aware of outside distractions like billboards, construction sites, and crashes. To divide your attention is dangerous.
  8. Texting – You are 23 times more likely to crash when texting. Distracted driving crashes from cellphone use is the #1 killer of teens in America.
  9. Daydreaming and emotional status– A 2014 study published in Elsevier magazine found negative distractions reduced lateral control in drivers. Driving angry can cause people to act impulsively and drive aggressively, which can be dangerous. Keep road rage in check
  10. Talking on the phone – Several studies have concluded talking on the phone (even hands-free devices) impairs driver reaction to the same level as being at the legal limit for blood alcohol content of .08

For a FREE consultation contact Eric at [email protected] or 1–888-377-8900. He represents people like you throughout the United States in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against negligent drivers. His offices are in Minneapolis, Minnesota.






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