Phone Addicts Outpace Drunken Drivers as Biggest Road Danger

Midnight to 3 a.m. has long been known as the window of time when you want to avoid being on the road because of the increased risk of being hit by a drunk driver. That risk is still there, but a new road menace has overtaken the drunken driver for the biggest hazard.

Phone addicts.

As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a recently released studyby Zendrive found that phone addicts have replaced drunk drivers as the ultimate threat to our safety on the road

And guess what? Traffic plagued locales like Los Angeles aren’t even the most dangerous. Texas cities take the top spots – Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area rank at the top of the list for distracted drivers in spite of state-wide efforts (like our 2017 texting-while-driving ban) to curb cell phone use while driving.

Unfortunately, people who are addicted to their cell phones also happen to drive more. In traffic-plagued, driving-obsessed North Texas, it should come as no surprise that phone addicts spend 150 percent more time on the road, according to a report by FORBES. And “whereas the 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. is the known window to watch for drunk drivers, phone addicts are on the road and significantly impaired 24-7.”

Zendrive classified phone addicts as those who use their cell phones at least 10 percent of the time while driving. Basically, if you can’t resist using your phone to send a text or check social media even once or twice during a 10 minute drive to the grocery store, you’re in the phone addict category and you need to rein it in.

Nationally, drivers are 10 percent more distracted this year than they were last year, according to the Zendrive report. In 2018, more than 6,000 drivers pedestrians lost their lives because of the actions of drivers who were distracted by their phones.

According to Zendrive’s blog post about its report, phone addicts:

  • spend three times more drive time actively using their phones
  • ignore the road in front of them 28 percent of the time they’re driving
  • are on the road 1.5 times more than the general population
  • are more of a danger to the public than drunk drivers

Even hands-free use such as talk-to-text or just conducting a phone call can be a deadly distraction.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationreports that 9 percent of fatal crashes in 2017 were distraction-related crashes. There were 3,166 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers and 599 non-occupants (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) killed by distracted drivers.

Texas in 2017 banned cell phone use while driving. While the penalties are low for first-time offenders ($99 fine for the first offense), repeat offenders can be fined up to $200 for each offense. Additionally, any harm you cause to a pedestrian or another driver could bump up the charge to a criminal level offense. There could be civil penalties as well. It’s just not worth it to pick up the phone while driving.

If you’ve been hurt by a negligent driver, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your pain, suffering, loss of employment or property damage. Contact Chad West, PLLC for help assessing your case if you were hurt by someone who was texting and driving in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin or Denton Counties. 

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