Why Phones Are Still a Major Reason for Car Accidents in Hawaii

Glenn Honda | | Car Accidents
Cellphone accident

Despite advances in technology and stricter distracted driving laws, phones continue to be a significant factor in car accidents in Hawaii. Distracted driving transforms everyday driving into a potential disaster. When distracted drivers divert their attention to their cell phones for texting, making phone calls, or any other use, their focus shifts away from the road and the cars surrounding them. This lapse in attention can lead to devastating distracted driving collisions, including fatal car accidents.

The 2016 Fatal Crash Traffic Data by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that distraction-related deaths, including texting, caused 3,450 deaths in one year. While this death rate was a 2.2 percent decrease compared to 2015, any fatality caused by a distraction is too much. 

The Recovery Law Center, a dedicated personal injury attorney firm in Hawaii, emphasizes the consequences of distracted driving behaviors. Not only do these accidents result in severe personal injuries, but they also lead to mounting medical bills, lost wages, and a long road to recovery. Particularly concerning is the impact on younger drivers, who are at a higher risk for engaging in distracted driving practices. This demographic often faces impaired driving charges, reflecting a worrying trend in drivers’ ages and their likelihood of being involved in auto accidents.  

This article will explore more insights about distracted driving in Hawaii and its implications for public safety. We will also explore why you need a personal injury lawyer to help you if you become one of the victims of a distracted driver.

Traffic Safety Facts: Unsafe Phone Use in Hawaii

Phone use while walking across an intersection or driving is illegal in Honolulu. People who use an electronic device while driving can face a $200 fine for their first offense. Recently, Honolulu enacted a law that makes crossing the street while looking at a phone a finable offense. Even with these laws and fines, people still risk their lives by using their phones in unsafe ways.

Tourists who use their phones in Hawaii can also face a unique safety challenge. The Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development & Tourism projects that out-of-state tourists will increase by at least 1.4 percent every year. This increase in visitors means even more people on the road who rely on their phones for navigation. 

Types of Distractions Caused by Cell Phone Usage

Cellphone usage

When we talk about distractions, we’re referring to anything that takes your attention away from driving. Cell phone use can distract us in three ways:

1. Seeing (Visual Distraction)

Imagine driving and taking a quick look at your phone to check a message or a notification. That moment when your eyes are on the phone and not the road, you’re visually distracted. A lot can happen on the road, even if it’s just for a few seconds. It’s like driving with your eyes closed for a short distance.

2. Touching (Manual Distraction)

Think about typing a message or scrolling through social media on your phone. To do this, you have to use your hands, right? When one or both hands are off the steering wheel and fiddling with your phone, that’s a manual distraction. It’s risky because you need your hands to control the car, like turning the steering wheel or reacting quickly to brake.

3. Thinking (Cognitive Distraction)

Lastly, there’s what we call cognitive distraction. This happens when your mind isn’t focused on driving because you’re thinking about that text message you just read or what to reply to. Even if your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel, your mind is elsewhere. You might not react as quickly to dangers or changes on the road because you’re mentally “checked out.”

Consequences of Phone-Related Car Accidents

The consequences of phone-related car accidents impact the individuals involved and society at large. The integration of mobile phones into daily life has brought about a surge in motor vehicle accidents attributed to texting and driving, marking it as a leading cause of fatal crashes on the roads. Here, we’ll explore the consequences of cellphone usage while driving.

Motor Vehicle Accidents and Texting While Driving

Texting while driving has become a prevalent issue among many drivers, contributing to many motor vehicle accidents each year. This form of distracted driving diverts a driver’s attention from the road, significantly increasing the risk of a car accident.

Fatal Crashes and the Leading Cause

Phone-related distractions have emerged as a leading cause of fatal crashes, particularly among teens and young adults. The need to respond quickly and social pressure from texts and calls can overpower the judgment of even the most cautious drivers, leading to devastating outcomes. Fatal crashes often involve not just the distracted driver but also innocent bystanders, passengers, and other motorists, underscoring the gravity of the issue.

The Law and Enforcement Challenges

In response to the rising tide of phone-related car accidents, laws have been enacted in many jurisdictions to curb texting and driving. These laws vary widely, but they share a common goal: to reduce the number of accidents by penalizing distracted driving. Enforcement, however, presents challenges. Proving that a driver was texting during an accident requires evidence, which can be challenging, making these laws harder to enforce effectively.

Impact on Teens

Teens are particularly at risk because of their relatively short driving experience and high susceptibility to peer influence. The combination of inexperience and distraction is lethal, resulting in a higher rate of accidents among this demographic. Education and awareness campaigns target this group specifically, aiming to instill safer driving habits early on.

Economic Costs

The economic costs associated with phone-related car accidents are staggering. Beyond the immediate expenses of medical care and vehicle repairs, there are broader financial impacts, including increased insurance premiums, lost productivity, and the societal burden of emergency services and healthcare. These costs significantly burden the economy, draining resources that could be allocated elsewhere.

Three Tips to Stop Using Your Phone While Driving

Cellphone and Driving

Because using a phone while moving can be dangerous, everyone must take precautions to protect themselves. These 3 effective strategies can reduce the incidence of phone-related car accidents.

  1. Install a prevention app: Several free apps can block texting, phone calls, and notifications while driving. Some apps can respond to callers with text messages that say you are driving.
  2. Use a smart dashboard: Some vehicles have built-in smart dashboards that display directions, notifications, and other pertinent information. These units often support hands-free inputs, so you will not need to pick up your phone while driving.
  3. Turn off your phone: The safest approach to driving is to turn off your phone and wait to respond until you park. This will stop distracting notifications and the temptation to look at your phone while driving.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving: A Call for Safer Roads and Legal Advocacy

Phone distractions divert drivers’ attention from the road, significantly increasing the risk of collisions. These accidents not only result in substantial physical harm but also emotional and financial distress for those involved. Drivers need to understand the severe problems that using phones while driving can cause and start doing things safely.

For individuals affected by such incidents, seeking legal assistance is paramount. The Recovery Law Center in Hawaii specializes in personal injury cases, offering legal guidance and support to victims of car accidents caused by distracted driving.

If you or someone you know has been impacted, schedule a consultation with us. This is the first step towards achieving justice and compensation for the losses endured.

Glenn T. Honda

For over 29 years, attorney Glenn Honda has helped people injured in accidents throughout Hawaii get the best outcome for their case, whether it’s maximizing their settlement, or balancing costs and risks vs. putting the whole experience behind them. As the founding attorney of the Recovery Law Center, he is passionate about helping his clients with their physical, emotional and financial recovery. Mr. Honda will fight to get you coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property and other costs related to your accident.

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