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Distracted driving a rampant problem on our roads

Holding a cellphone while driving

Whether it's texting, setting up a GPS, talking on the phone, or even taking a sip of coffee, today's drivers are confronted with more distractions now more than ever before. Distracted driving has become an epidemic on roadways across the country, resulting in far too many preventable car accidents.

According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, crashes involving distracted drivers claimed the lives of 3,142 people in 2019. That marks a 10% surge in fatalities from 2018.

In most cases, it’s just a few seconds that a driver is distracted from watching the road. But those few seconds could mean the difference between avoiding a collision and a deadly crash.

New Hampshire's distracted driving laws

Like most other states, New Hampshire has made texting while driving illegal. Under the law, drivers are not allowed to:

  • Use a handheld cellphone or another type of handheld wireless communication device
  • Read or send a text
  • Browse the web
  • Watch videos or view TV broadcast signals

Exceptions to the law include:

  • Using a cellphone to call 911 to report an emergency
  • Using hands-free mode with a GPS that is integrated into the vehicle or mounted on the dashboard, windshield, or visor

While drivers younger than 18 are prohibited from using all mobile electronic devices, even in hands-free mode, they may use a cellphone to call a public safety agency in the event of an emergency.

Nationwide, there's a ban on texting and driving in 48 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Twenty-five states and territories also prohibit drivers from using a cellphone while driving. There are also cellphone bans for teen drivers in 39 states.

Despite the bans against using a cellphone or texting while driving, phone-related crashes still happen every day.

As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, you may have noticed a heavier police presence on the roads to emphasize the legal consequences and fines for distracted driving.

State highway safety offices and law enforcement agencies joined forces to raise awareness with the goal of committing to enforcement of texting laws in a fair and equitable way, reducing traffic crashes caused by distracted drivers, and preventing injuries and deaths due to cellphone usage behind the wheel.

How you can avoid distracted driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a nationwide effort to inform the driving public about the choices they make on the road. Safety tips for all drivers include:

  • Pulling over to the side of the road or parking your vehicle in a safe location before texting or using your phone.
  • Making a passenger your “designated texter” and allowing them to hold your phone so they can answer your calls and read your texts.
  • Placing your phone in the glove box, the trunk, or in the back seat to avoid the temptation of using it while you're driving.

Being aware of your actions and the actions of others on the road is crucial for safety when it comes to potential distractions on the road. Some steps you can take to help combat the problem of distracted driving include:

  • Remind your friends and family that if you’re driving, the only thing you should be focused on is the road.
  • If you are a passenger with a distracted driver, ask them to stop what they're doing and pay attention to their driving.
  • Ask your friends or family to join you in taking a pledge to not drive while distracted. Share that pledge on social media via #JustDrive

Hold distracted drivers accountable with a car accident lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the reckless actions of a distracted driver, an attorney can help you hold the at-fault driver responsible and fight for the compensation you're entitled to.

At Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, P.A., we're proud to say we've been serving clients in New Hampshire for more than 150 years. As aggressive advocates for the injured, our law firm has stood the test of time because we genuinely care about helping clients with their problems and working hard to get the best possible outcome in their case.

Find out what our dedicated legal team can do for you. Contact us today for a free consultation. With offices in Dover and Portsmouth, we offer our legal services to clients throughout New Hampshire.

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