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Should distracted driving be punished similar to drunk driving?

On behalf of Goldstein Goldstein

If you wouldn’t feel safe getting into a car with a drunk driver, shouldn’t the same caution be exercised in the presence of a distracted driver? Unfortunately, many readers might answer that question in the negative. Indeed, a recent article questions whether texting, web surfing and talking on one’s cell phone behind the wheel are more socially acceptable than drunk driving, despite research documenting the extent to which those activities similarly impair a driver’s responses and ability to drive safely.

The statistics are sobering: fatalities from motor vehicle accidents are once again rising after many years of decline. The chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also confirms that distracted driving is becoming an increasing issue on the country’s roads and highways.

Fortunately, lawmakers are beginning to take notice. Some are even consciously modeling their approach after drunk driving enforcement efforts. Whereas a breathalyzer might be used in a drunk driving stop to measure a driver’s blood alcohol level, a new device called a Textalyzer can be plugged into a driver’s phone to measure activity immediately before a crash. The analogy can be continued even farther, such as having authorities use checkpoints for distracted driving stops and pass laws that will establish a punishment scheme for both first-time and repeat distracted driving offenders.

Evidence of distracted driving from the Textalyzer may also prove useful in the context of personal injury lawsuits. If a jury were to learn that a defendant had been using his or her cellphone immediately prior to a crash, they might be more inclined to find the defendant liable. Our law firm has experience crafting strong legal strategies in car accident cases, working to get crash victims the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, and any other damages. 

Source: The New York Times, “Student Question | Should Distracted Driving Be Punished Like Drinking and Driving?” Katherine Schulten, April 29, 2016

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