Cell Phone Use and Texting Increase Driving Risk, Says NY Attorney

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Steven J. Schwartzapfel of Schwartzapfel Truhowsky Marcus P.C. says recent texting phenomenon poses a special danger on the highway

The growing popularity of texting poses an increasing risk on our highways

Drivers face enough distractions on the road without the added diversion of talking on a cell phone or sending a text message while behind the wheel, a New York attorney says.

"Texting while driving kills," says NY attorney Steven J. Schwartzapfel of Schwartzapfel Truhowsky Marcus, P.C. "and the recent phenomenon poses a special danger on the highway. The apparent urgency of sending or receiving text messages while driving does not out way the value of lives. Thousands of lives are being irreparably damaged every year as a result of driving distractions and texting is just one more deadly distraction. Put the phone in the trunk, pull into a rest area to text or wait until you arrive at your destination."

A new study of drivers texting inside their vehicles puts texting in a special category of risk surpassing all other driver distractions. The study, by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, indicated the drivers' risk of a collision was 23 times greater than when the driver was not texting. In the brief interval before a crash or near crash, drivers who were texting typically took their eyes off the road for about five seconds to look at their wireless device--enough time to travel the length of one and a half football fields at typical highway speeds.

In the last three years, the popularity of texting has exploded. There has been a tenfold increase in phone users sending text messages in three years, The New York Times reported, citing data from the cellular phone industry's trade group, CTIA.

To help protect the motoring public from distracted drivers, Schwartzapfel said as a first step, legislatures across the country should ban texting while driving. To date, 14 states ban texting while driving, including New Jersey, California, Louisiana and Alaska. New York lawmakers have sent a bill to Gov. David Patterson. Thirty-six states do not ban the practice.

"The growing popularity of texting poses an increasing risk on our highways," Schwartzapfel said. "In the plainest of language texting while driving is deadly. It is like playing Russian roulette. Lawmakers should prohibit practices that take drivers eyes off the road."

The new Virginia Tech research amplifies a recently released 2003 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that concluded that the use of cell phones while driving has contributed to an increasing number of crashes, injuries and fatalities. The phenomenon is known as driving distracted.

The NHTSA estimates that driver distraction contributes to about 25 percent of all police reported traffic crashes. While all distractions are a concern, there has been a dramatic growth in one distraction: cell phone use. Today, roughly 12 percent of drivers are talking on the phone at any time, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates.

Schwartzapfel offered safety tips for use of cell phones in a car.

  • Reduce your risk of an accident by resisting the temptation to talk on a cell phone while driving. If you can't help yourself, place the phone in your trunk.
  • If you're behind the wheel, let a passenger receive or place a call.
  • Drivers should stop their vehicle in a safe location off the road, before making or receiving a call on a cell phone.
  • If you're expecting an important call, let someone else drive or use the voicemail function to take a message. Return the call when not driving.
  • Never use a cell phone to send a text message while driving. Arrive safely at your destination.

About Schwartzapfel Partners

Schwartzapfel Truhowsky Marcus P.C. is one of the most prominent and well-respected plaintiff personal injury and estate litigation firms in New York. With over 150 years of combined experience and highly competent co-counsel throughout the country, Schwartzapfel Partners serves all your legal needs.

The firm concentrates in all types of personal injury litigation, including all kinds of motor vehicle accidents: auto, truck, motorcycle, taxi--medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, wrongful death, defective products and drugs, construction accidents, workplace injuries, workers' compensation and Social Security disability. To contact the law firm, call 1.800.966.4999 or go to http://www.fightingforyou.com for more information.

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