Do you know what personal-injury lawyers do nowadays after they’ve been hired to represent someone you might have injured in an automobile accident?
They get a copy of your cell phone records.
And too often, those records will show you were using that phone while driving, leaving you open to a negligence claim that just got even more serious than you might have anticipated.
Sadly, you’re not alone. Nearly eight in 10 people talk on the phone while driving and more than 30 percent admit to having been in a near-miss crash because they were driving while distracted.
That’s according to the results of a recently conducted survey of more than 2,000 people by Travelers Companies – a survey that confirmed (once again) that people aren’t merely talking on their phones. Rather, they’re also:
- Typing a text or email (44 percent).
- Using social media (23 percent).
- Recording videos or taking photos (22 percent).
- Shopping online (15 percent).
Know what’s also unsettling? Thirteen percent of the respondents said they would find it very difficult to stop reading texts or emails while driving, and 11 percent said it would be difficult to stop typing texts or emails while driving.
Even more troubling, 19 percent said they would still drive distracted even if it was against the law, which it is in a growing number of states, including Colorado.
In case you’ve forgotten, Colorado in 2017 passed an anti-texting and driving law. The law covers more than just text messaging. A ticket can be issued for any sort of interaction with a smartphone screen “in a manner that caused the operator to drive in a careless and imprudent manner.”
The law increased the penalty for texting while driving from $50 to $300. Also, a violation will now result in four points on a driver’s license instead of just one. (You don’t want to know what it does to your insurance premiums).
The survey, meanwhile, also indicated that many workplaces just don’t consider the full consequences of driving while distracted.
According to the National Safety Council, the average economic cost of a crash is more than $1 million per death and more than $78,000 per nonfatal disabling injury. However, 12 percent of business executives and owners surveyed said they do not worry about the liability associated with a crash caused by a distracted employee, and most (74 percent) do not consider driving while distracted to be of great concern.
But, wait, it gets worse.
According to Travelers, three out of four workplaces have implemented distracted driving policies. However, just 18 percent of businesses advise employees to set their phones to Do Not Disturb before driving, and only 40 percent report knowing of an employee who was disciplined for not complying with company policy.
A new bill in Colorado would make driving while using a handheld cell phone or similar device illegal. It might not pass this year, but whether you agree with it or not, you can bet that proponents will push it again next year.
Scott Kennedy, president and COO of CCIG, has more than 30 years of insurance and risk management experience.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance broker with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right business or personal insurance policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.