A recent study by State Farm (November 2014) reveals some interesting facts about cell phone use when driving. The study was conducted over a 6 year period using an online survey of individuals over the age of 18. Roughly 1,000 individuals participated in the survey during each year it was offered.
The study found that 63% of drivers are more likely to use their cell phones when stopped at a red light. 30% of drivers are more likely to use cell phones when on an open highway.
The study identified some key trends over the last 6 years:
The number of people who admit to texting when driving has remained stable over the past 6 years.
Smartphone ownership is increasing, especially in adults aged 40 and above. By 2014, roughly 80% of adults owned a smartphone, up from 52% in 2011.
Drivers are using smartphones to read email, access the internet and engage with social media.
Talking and texting when driving peak for drivers aged 18-29 and decrease with age.
These trends are quite troubling and reveal just how pervasive cell phone use when driving really is. Data from the Delaware Department of Transportation shows that the number of auto accidents due to distracted driving, which includes cell phone use when driving, has remained steady at roughly 5,000 per year since 2009.
In addition, the State Farm study found that drivers are less likely to use cell phones under the following circumstances:
- inclement weather (snow, fog, rain),
- heavy traffic, and
- school and construction zones.
Cell Phone Use When Driving in School Zones & Construction Zones
While the State Farm study revealed that drivers reported decreased cell phone use while driving in school and construction zones, roughly 10% of the study respondents indicated that school and construction zones had no impact on their cell phone use. In other words, 10% of the study’s participants admitted to using cell phones in school zones and construction zones.
Cell phone use on Delaware roads is especially problematic in school zones and construction zones. Distracted driving in these special zones increases the risk of a tragic auto accident. A pedestrian, school child or construction worker may be seriously injured or worse, killed due to a distracted driver.
In these types of auto accident situations, the at-fault (distracted) driver may face claims for punitive damages. At least one Delaware court has indicated that using a cell phone coupled with other risky behavior, such as speeding or running a red light, may justify punitive damages. See Howell v. Kusters (2010, Delaware Superior Court).
Driving through a school zone or construction zone when using a cell phone may certainly give rise to a claim for punitive damages. Read more about cell phone use and punitive damages claims.
For over 30 years, our lawyers have been representing individuals injured in auto accidents in Delaware. Our firm has offices in Wilmington, Newark and Dover. Please call our office for a free consultation. (302) 658-1717
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