Texting While Driving: It’s Not Just the Driver’s Fault

We know it's frustrating, but please pull over to text or make a call if you don't have a hands-free system.

We know it’s frustrating, but please pull over to text or make a call if you don’t have a hands-free system.

It’s New Jersey, not California, but considering the amount of drivers on California roads (especially teens), it’s possible this ruling will hit this coast soon. What ruling? The one that the New Jersey appeals court ruled on recently, finding that a person who knowingly sends a text to a driver can share liability if that driver causes an accident.

The appeals court did clarify the ruling by saying that the person who texts the motorist is not liable for the driver’s negligent actions, but that person texting the driver has a duty to “refrain if the person knows the recipient is driving and likely to read the message,” according to a Claims Journal article published on September 4, 2013.

Why so strict? Because there are a lot of statistics about driving while texting, especially teens driving while texting, that are very sobering.

  • 23% of car collisions in 2011 involved cell phones, and that equals 1.3 million crashes
  • Did you know that even FIVE seconds of having your eyes off the road means that, at 55 mph, you’ve traveled the length of a full football field? Yikes.
  • Dialing your phone while driving makes you 2.8 times more at risk of having a crash; Talking or listening only 1.3 more times, and reaching the device is 1.4 times more likely. Texting? TWENTY-THREE times more likely! Yes, 23! That’s scary.
  • But teens won’t do it, right? How many really have cell phones? Of Americans aged between 16-17, 82% have cellphones. That’s more than three in four! And 34% of them have admitted to texting while driving.
  • And even more scary is that 55% of drivers in the young adult range say that it’s “easy” to text while they drive…
  • Where do they learn it? FROM ADULTS. Yes, they see their parents or other adult do it, so 48% of 12-17 year-olds definitely use that as an excuse.

In California (and nine other states plus Washington D.C.) actually prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones. Yes, you can use hands-free, but if you touch that phone, even at a stop sign or red traffic light (you know who you are), you can get fined. How much? In California, base fine is $20. No problem, right? WRONG. With administration fees, that adds up to $159 for the first offense, and $279 for subsequent tickets.

So really, what are we saying here? Don’t text while driving. And if you need to make a call, use a proper hands-free system to do so. And please, please, whatever you do, don’t show your kids bad habits like texting while driving.—because the repercussions for teaching teens that texting while driving is okay are life-shattering.

If you have questions about your auto insurance, and how you’re covered if you are in, or cause, an accident, please give us a call. All of the staff at BMR Insurance Agency will be happy to review your policies. 714-838-1911

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