While significant safety improvements have been made to automobiles over the years, the truth is that there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of technological devices within cars that can take the attention of many drivers off the road. Perhaps the most common type of distracted driving involves the smartphone.
The Hartford Courant recently reported that dozens of police departments throughout Connecticut would be putting extra patrols on the street this month for the specific purpose of catching distracted drivers. “Texting and driving is a public safety crisis,” Wethersfield Lieutenant Michael Connolly told the Courant.
Connecticut prohibits certain kinds of cell phone use for all drivers. Drivers under 18 years of age and school bus drivers are prohibited from the use of a hand-held mobile telephone or other electronic devices. In general, these violations are punishable by fines that increase for repeat violations, but the far greater danger of distracted driving is the increased likelihood of causing a car accident.
Types of Smartphone Distractions
Use of hand-held mobile telephones and mobile electronic devices by motor vehicle operators is prohibited under Connecticut General Statute § 14-296aa. The statute provides very specific definitions as they relate to smartphones. The statute lists:
- Mobile Telephone — A cellular, analog, wireless or digital telephone capable of sending or receiving telephone communications without an access line for service.
- Hand-Held Mobile Telephone — A mobile telephone with which a user engages in a call using at least one hand.
- Hands-Free Mobile Telephone — A hand-held mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such hand-held mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a call without the use of either hand, whether or not the use of either hand is necessary to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of such telephone.
- Mobile Electronic Device — Any hand-held or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing data communication between two or more persons, including a text messaging device, a paging device, a personal digital assistant, a laptop computer, equipment that is capable of playing a video game or a digital video disk, or equipment on which digital photographs are taken or transmitted, or any combination thereof, but does not include any audio equipment or any equipment installed in a motor vehicle for the purpose of providing navigation, emergency assistance to the operator of such motor vehicle or video entertainment to the passengers in the rear seats of such motor vehicle.
Most smartphones meet all four of these definitions. Smartphones are used not only for making phone calls but can also be used to read or send text messages or emails, access websites through the internet, or listen to music or watch videos, among many other types of functions.
A study by AT&T found 7 in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. A survey by global tech protection and support company Asurion found that the average American checks their phone on average once every 12 minutes or 80 times a day, with 1 in 10 checking their phones once every four minutes.
There is no denying that using a smartphone is dangerous when driving. Smartphone use combines all three possible types of distractions: visual distraction that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, manual distraction that takes a motorist’s hand or hands off the wheel, and a cognitive distraction that takes a driver’s mind off the task of operating an automobile.
Get Help from our Distracted Driving Lawyer
If you or your loved one were seriously injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver in Connecticut, you should contact Wocl Leydon, LLC as soon as possible. You can have our attorneys review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.