When they're asked about texting while driving, most people say they know it's dangerous. In one survey, over 90 percent of people acknowledged that. However, many people do it nonetheless.
Teens have the worst reputation for texting behind the wheel. It's estimated that texting while driving is the cause of over 3,000 teen fatalities annually. However, people of all ages are guilty of this unsafe practice. Unfortunately, many teens have grown up watching their parents do it.
Not only is the practice dangerous, but in many states, it's illegal. Illinois is one of those states -- and the penalties are about to become harsher. Beginning in July of this year, if you're caught texting while driving, you'll not only be fined but you'll be cited for a moving violation. It will count towards the number of violations that can result in a license suspension.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White sought even stricter penalties for a practice that's been shown to be even more dangerous than drunk driving. It's estimated that a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field in the 4.6 seconds the average texting activity takes a driver's eyes off the road.
Drivers can help protect themselves and others by keeping their phone off and out of reach while they're driving. This can help people who are tempted to respond to incoming calls or messages or take it out while waiting at a red light or stuck in traffic.
If you're in a vehicle with a driver who's texting, speak up. They're putting your safety at risk, so you have a right to ask them to put their phone away.
When you refrain from texting and other forms of distracted driving, you're better able to respond to other drivers' unexpected actions. However, if you're injured in a crash caused by another driver, you can find out whether they were texting or otherwise using their phone at the time. Law enforcement agencies can get records of driver's phone activity.
This information can strengthen your case if you decide to sue an at-fault driver for compensation for your medical treatment, physical therapy, lost wages and other expenses and damages after a crash. An experienced attorney can help you.