A study at Virginia Tech provides further evidence that motorists can indeed be distracted when cell phones are used in various ways. The study was financed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Research results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Basics: A Quick Summary of the Study
- Tracking Eye Movements
In the study, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers utilized GPS, lane trackers, cameras and additional gadgetry to measure changes in both speed and acceleration while mobile devices were in use. Video cameras were used to track driver eye movements to ascertain when eyes were on the road and when they were not.
- Different Demographics Studied
Two very different demographics were involved in the research: motorists averaging 20 years of driving experience and drivers 16-17 years of age. Investigations into the impact of smartphone and other mobile device usage by motorists are of particular interest given the popularity of such devices with younger drivers and the much higher incidence of accidents in that demographic. Specifically, drivers 20 years of age and younger constitute six percent of all American drivers, yet they are responsible for 10 percent of all traffic fatalities. They also account for 14 percent of all accidents reported to law enforcement.
- Increased Accident Potential
Researchers did find that manually dialing a phone, texting, or merely reaching for a cell phone all increased the odds of having near-misses or actual crashes. The Virginia Tech study did not establish a clear correlation between car accidents and near-misses with speaking on a mobile phone, and additionally, researchers did not distinguish between handheld and hands-free usage.
Who Does This Matter?
Laws vary, but certain states have banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving, and a greater number of states have banned texting while driving. Currently, in Florida, law enforcement cannot pull over an individual for texting while driving. Nevertheless, it is against the law and can result in a ticket and fine if the drive is pulled over for a separate offense. In light of this study's findings and the current state of the law, if you have been injured in an accident caused by negligence and distracted driving, please do not hesitate to contact a Stuart car accident attorney at Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC.
For more information or to discuss the specifics of your situation, please contact us.