Nowadays, everyone has a cell phone and most everyone sends text messages while driving. We all know how serious it can be and what happens if you hit someone while texting and driving is not good for the perpetrator. We have all seen cars weaving while going down a straight road. Most of these “weavers” are texting and driving (sending text messages or reading text messages or any of a number of things drivers may do on their cell phones).
NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ASSOCIATION (NHTSA)
According to the NHTSA, distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of car accidents in the United States. Texting and Driving is probably also the No. 1 issue of distracted driving. Of course, “distracted driving” can be looking at a business as you drive by, eating, putting on makeup, looking at another driver, using the technology in your car like the radio, navigation, and other controls. So, what happens if you hit someone while texting and driving is a major concern in today’s world of increasing technology.
20 STATES PROHIBIT HANDHELD CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING
No handheld cellphone use: 20 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving.
Teen use:38 states and Washington D.C. prohibit all cell phone use by novice teen drivers.
School bus drivers: 21 states and Washington D.C. prohibit school bus drivers from driving and any use of a cell phone.
Text messaging: 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit text messaging for all drivers.
Colorado: In Colorado, no one is allowed to text and drive. However, we know that this law is broken everyday. In Colorado, a driver can hold their cell phone in their hand for phone calls. However, drivers younger than 18 (teenagers) are not allowed to drive at all while using a cellphone. For Teens, cell phones are totally prohibited while driving.
I think a lot of people in Colorado are not aware of the total ban on text messaging. We see drivers texting all the time and I just cannot believe it. Texting is similar to drinking in driving in that a driver texting has more or less the same reaction times as one who is legally intoxicated. That is not good! Texting and driving is just as dangerous as drinking and driving, in my opinion, if not more dangerous. Again, the topic of what happens if you hit someone while texting and driving will be explained below.
DRUNK DRIVING VS. TEXTING AND DRIVING
I think it is appropriate to compare car accidents involving drunk driving and those involving “distracted driving” or texting. We all know that drinking and driving is dangerous, no matter how many beers you have had. Drunk driving impairs a driver’s ability to make quick decisions, impairs senses and motor skills, longer braking times, inability to stay in one’s own lane, visual impairment, etc.
What happens if you hit someone while texting and driving?
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3 MAIN COMPONENTS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
- Visual component: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual component: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Brain component: taking your mind off of driving.
Most common type of distracted driving. Of course, texting and driving is the most common type of “distracted driving” and is the topic of what happens if you hit someone while texting and driving. When someone is texting and driving, they are using all of the 3 above components: Texting and driving involve taking your eyes of the road, taking your hand or hands off of the steering wheel and taking your mind or brain away from the performance of driving.
Mentally: Text messages may take your brain off the road. Let’s say you receive a text message that your father just died. After a driver reads this, how likely is he or she to have all mental faculties while driving? Upsetting or even exciting news can take your mind totally away from the act of driving.
Texting time: The average text message takes about 5 seconds to send. What is happening when a driver is sending a text message? Well, for one thing, in 5 seconds and at 55 mph, a driver will cover the distance of a football field. We all know how long a football field is. A lot can happen in that distance. Imagine, that a car could stop in front of you and you would have no real reaction time. A driver could run through a red light in those typical 5 seconds.
Here are some alarming statistics regarding how many text messages that people send.
- Americans send roughly 26,033,333,333 (26 billion) text messages every day. (Statistic Brain)
- Americans send roughly 182,233,333,333 (182.2 billion) text messages every week. (Statistic Brain)
- Americans send roughly 781,000,000,000 (781 billion) text messages every month. (Statistic Brain)
- Americans send roughly 9,372,000,000,000 (9.4 trillion) text messages every year. (Statistic Brain)
- On average, each American sends and receives 94 text messages per day. (Text Request)
- On average, each American sends and receives 658 text messages per week. (Text Request)
- On average, each American sends and receives 2,819 text messages per month. (Text Request)
- On average, each American sends and receives 33,834 text messages per year. (Text Request)
- 1,084,722,222 texts are sent every hour in the United States. (Statistic Brain)
- 18,078,704 texts are sent every minute in the United States. (Statistic Brain)
- 301,312 texts are sent every second in the United States. (Statistic Brain)
Now that we know about all these alarming statistics and how you can compare texting and driving to drunk driving, we can now analyze what happens if you hit someone while texting and driving.
What happens if you hit someone while texting and driving?
If you hit someone while texting and driving, then your actions will be analyzed from a negligence perspective.
Were you negligent in causing the car accident?
Most likely, if you are texting and driving, you will be found negligent and the cause of the car accident. First of all, texting and driving is illegal in Colorado (as we have learned above). Here is more detail on Colorado’s law of cell phone use while driving:
Distracted Driving and Cell Phone Use in Colorado
Adult drivers.Regular cell phone use for voice calls is permitted. Headphones may be worn in one ear for this purpose. However, adult drivers are prohibited from manual data entry and transmission on a cell phone (i.e., to send a text message or browse the internet) while behind the wheel.
Minor drivers.Any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission. See the Minor License subsection for more information about rules related to minor drivers.
Exceptions.Exceptions to the law are provided under specified circumstances. Drivers, regardless of age, may use a wireless device for phone calls or sending or receiving text messages either to contact a public safety entity or during an emergency. An emergency is defined as any situation in which the following may occur:
- a person has reason to fear for his or her life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against him or her or against another person;
- reporting of a fire, serious traffic accident, serious road hazard, or a medical or hazardous materials emergency; or
- reporting of a person who is driving in a reckless, careless, or unsafe manner.
Penalties.The table below lists penalties assessed for violating state laws pertaining to cell phone use and text messaging while driving and indicates fines for both initial and subsequent offenses. In addition to fines set in statute, offenders are assessed a surcharge credited to the Victims and Witnesses Assistance and Law Enforcement Fund and the Crime Victim Compensation Fund.
What happens if you hit someone while texting and driving Penalties:
|Minor Drivers (all cell phone use)||Initial Violation Class A Traffic Infraction||1||$50|
|Adult Drivers (text messaging)||Initial Violation Class 2 Misdemeanor Traffic Offense||4||$300|
|Subsequent Violation Bodily Injury or Proximate Cause Of Death to Another, Class 1 Misdemeanor||4||Up to one year imprisonment,|
|Source: Section 42-4-239, C.R.S.|
Enforcement.Distracted driving violations are primary offenses. Current law states that a law enforcement officer must see the use of the mobile device to transmit data and that the driver was operating the motor vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner in order to issue a citation.
You can see that if you are found to be texting and driving by a police officer, you will have various fines and possible jail time or both. If an adult is found to be texting and driving for the first time, then that adult driver will receive 4 points on his or her driver’s license and a $300 fine. For later violations, the same adult driver can get up to 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine or both. These are quite strict penalties so drivers should really analyze if it is worth going to jail for texting and driving.
The answer to what happens if you hit someone while texting and driving is usually the same. The texting and driving driver who is at fault will be found to be negligent and thus the cause of the particular car accident. There can of course be other causes, but texting and driving is usually the major cause when we are dealing with these types of factual driving situations. So, what happens if you hit someone while texting and driving is not going to be a good answer for the at-fault driver. Call me as soon as possible, if you have been hit by someone while texting and driving.