Texting while driving on the rise

Widespread public health campaigns in Michigan have highlighted the dangers of distracted driving. Many of these efforts have focused on the use of handheld phones, including calling and texting while driving. Similarly to overall trends in communication, fewer drivers are talking on handheld phones while behind the wheel. However, drivers are 57 percent more likely to use their phones for texting, internet browsing or email, even when operating their vehicles.

Even drivers who refrain from mobile device use while moving may be tempted to pick up a phone and text or surf while stopped at a red light. However, even stopped distracted drivers can contribute to dangerous car accidents, being ill-prepared to move in an emergency situation or even when the light changes to green. These results came in a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an organization supported by the insurance industry that aims to improve roadway safety and decrease accident risks.

The report noted that distracted driving remained relatively steady between 2014 and 2018 but that different types of distraction are posing increased threats. Rather than holding a phone to converse, drivers are choosing to text instead. Researchers warned about this trend, noting that actively typing and otherwise manipulating a phone is linked to more serious crashes than simply holding the phone while talking. Studies indicate that people are 66 percent more likely to have a fatal crash when using a mobile phone or tablet. In 2017, over 800 deaths were linked to surfing or texting while driving.

The consequences of distracted driving can be devastating to others on the road, leading to catastrophic injuries, brain trauma or organ damage in severe motor vehicle accidents. A personal injury lawyer might help accident victims to pursue compensation for their damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages and medical bills.