By Jason R.L. Major – Concord, New Hampshire Attorney
With the ever-increasing proliferation of electronic communications devices, “texting” or SMS messaging, has become as common a means of communicating as telephones and emails. The usefulness of sending short, discrete messages in text form, combined with our on-the-go lifestyles, makes it tempting to try texting while you’re driving your vehicle. However, doing so is incredibly dangerous.
It is not hard to understand the danger with a little simple math. At just 50 mph, your car will cover 73 feet every second. A three second text message saying something as simple as “OK” will require you to travel 220 feet – more than 2/3 of a football field – with you eyes off the road. At 70 mph, you would travel over 300 feet to type the same simple text. More complicated messages could have you covering great distances with your eyes only intermittently on the road, and even then distracted by your thoughts about what you want to read or type on your phone.
This distraction and inattention to the dangerous task of guiding a two-ton missile down the road will predictably lead to serious accidents. TEXTINGNDRIVING.COM reports that 80% of crashes, and 65% of “near crashes” involve some form of driver inattention in the 3 seconds prior to the incident. According to DISTRACTION.GOV, the official US Government website publishing statistics on distracted driving, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011. That number was an increase from the 2010 figure of 3,267 people being killed. It also reports that texting while driving increases your risk of being in an accident by 23 times compared to non-distracted driving.
Because of the increasing number of and severity of accidents involving texting while driving, the State of New Hampshire is joining other states in prohibiting texting while driving by enacting RSA 265:105-a:
RSA 265:105-a Prohibited Text Messages and Device Usage While Operating a Motor Vehicle
I. A person operating a moving motor vehicle who writes a text message or uses 2 hands to type on or operate an electronic or telecommunications device, is guilty of a violation. A person does not write a text message when he or she reads, selects or enters a phone number or name in a wireless communications device for the purpose of making a phone call.
In addition to a $100 fine for texting and driving, in the event a driver causes an accident while texting and driving he or she is at risk of being held “negligent per se.” Whenever someone causes another injury by violating a safety-based statutory standard like RSA 265:105-a, a jury is entitled to “presume” that they engaged in negligent conduct. That means that if you are the defendant who was texting and driving, you already have a strike against your ability to defend yourself from a finding of liability. If you are a plaintiff, it means that one element of your negligence case is all but proven right out of the gate, which puts you in a stronger position in a personal injury case.
The attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. are well-versed in experienced auto accident cases. You should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer such as one at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation.