Archive for the ‘cell phone/ texting accidents’ Category

Distracted Driving in South Carolina a Critical Risk

A recent analysis by KTX Insurance Brokers indicates that far more crashes are caused by distracted driving than previously believed.

For all the various kinds of distracted driving – from texting while driving to putting on makeup to scolding children in the backseat – it’s often tough to prove in the event of a moving violation or crash. Frequently, researchers found, these incidents are lumped into the category of “careless driving.”

Our Columbia, SC accident attorneys¬†recognize that unlike drunk driving, authorities may find it all but impossible to establish that a motorist was distracted at the time of the wreck. They may rely on witness statements, the driver’s own statements or cell phone and text messaging records. But even those aren’t always reliable.

Distracted driving accidents on the rise in South Carolina

Formal estimates from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving in 2012. That’s a nine percent increase from what was reported from a year earlier.

The issue is major in South Carolina, which remains one of the only states in the country still lacking a cell phone or texting ban. There is a proposed measure that recently headed to the floor of the state senate. If the amended bill becomes law, it would mandate a $100 fine for a first-time texting while driving offense, a $200 fine for the second, and a $300 fine for the third, accompanied by two points on one’s driver’s license. The original draft would have required a $100 fine and no points for a first-time offense, a $500 fine for the second, with both carrying a two-point penalty.

Although the penalties are substantially weaker, they are considerably higher than what the original draft proposed, which was a $25 fine.

Some individual municipalities, such as Summerville, have been pursuing their own texting bans, but some of those have been set aside in anticipation of a statewide ban.

Hands-free technology may do more harm than good

Even if the measure passes, it’s highly unlikely to curb all forms of distraction. In fact, more continue to emerge. Take, for example, the rise of in-vehicle “infotainment” systems. Most new models of vehicles are being manufactured with infotainment systems standard issue. These are systems that are equipped with GPS navigation, speech-to-text technology, hands-free phone capabilities, music systems, access to social media and even videos and games.

Some manufacturers have promoted these systems as “safe” – or at least “safer” than using handheld devices.

However, new research from the AAA Foundation suggests that not only are these systems equally if not more dangerous than handheld devices, the way they are marketed may provide drivers with a false sense of security.

The study found that the typical, in-car activities were highly cognitively distracting. Study results were rated on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was a single driver with no distractions. Listening to the radio boosted the distraction level to 1.21. Having a passenger in the car upped the distraction level to 2.33. Talking on a cell phone increased the distraction level to 2.45.

The most dangerous? Listening and responding to e-mail using speech-to-text infotainment systems – rating 3.06 on the distraction scale.

Contact a Columbia, S.C. accident attorney at Matthews & Megna by calling 1-803-799-1700.