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New Hampshire DOS Seeks $500,000 to Tackle Distracted Driving

Woman simultaneously driving car and typing text message. The image shows a mobile smart phone in a female hands over the vehicle steering wheel.

Funding request to support law enforcement, education, and accountability

To help break the dangerous cycle of distracted driving, the state of New Hampshire is proposing an investment of $500,000 in educational driver programs and initiatives. The Department of Safety request aims to enhance the visibility of law enforcement on New Hampshire roads and support media campaigns to raise public awareness about the risks of distracted driving.

This initiative comes during Distracted Driving Awareness Month and is in response to the significant impact distracted driving has had in the state. According to crash data, inattentive driving contributed to 42 fatal crashes between 2014 and 2020 and 15 percent of total crashes in 2021.

New Hampshire distracted driving laws

Distracted driving is illegal in New Hampshire, yet it still happens often. While cell phones are a major source of distraction behind the wheel, many negligent behaviors count as dangerous driver inattention. Common distractions that lead to accidents range from texting while driving to eating and anything else that takes a driver’s attention from the road.

Like most states, New Hampshire's distracted driving laws focus on reducing the use of electronic handheld devices while operating motor vehicles. In New Hampshire:

  • Handheld use of cell phones or any other wireless communication devices while driving is prohibited.
  • Reading or sending a text while driving is not allowed.
  • Browsing the web while driving is not permitted.
  • Watching videos or viewing TV broadcast signals while driving is illegal.

Exceptions to the law include:

  • Using a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency.
  • Using a GPS in hands-free mode if it's integrated into the vehicle or mounted on the dashboard, windshield, or visor.

For drivers younger than 18, all use of mobile electronic devices, even in hands-free mode, is prohibited, except for calling a public safety agency in the event of an emergency.

Do awareness campaigns work?

Recent data suggests the kind of campaign the Department of Safety seeks to fund may be working. A national survey looking at the biggest distraction behind the wheel - electronic devices like cell phones - noted that:

  • At any given time during daylight hours, 6.4 percent of drivers - or over 314,000 motorists - are actively using their cell phones nationwide.
  • Holding phones to the ear while driving decreased from 3.2 percent in 2018 to 2.1 percent in 2022.
  • The number of motorists using cell phones while driving in "not clear weather" decreased from 3 percent to 1.7 percent between 2021 and 2022.

However, not all the data is positive. Texting or otherwise visibly manipulating handheld devices is up from 2.1 percent in 2018 to 3.1 percent in 2022.

Issues with the distracted driving data and accountability

The rising trend of distracted driving, especially as the reliance on technology grows, has become a major cause for concern among safety advocates. However, the number of distracted driving accidents is likely underreported, the Department of Safety noted in its official funding request:

"Non-fatal crash data and distracted driving fatality data may be underreported as there are many crashes that occur on New Hampshire roads with no other reason or explanation for the crash other than the vehicle left the road," the request states. "Some of these crashes have occurred on a straight road, and a clear summer day with no explanation of how the crash occurred."

Keep in mind that negligent drivers rarely admit to wrongdoing. State regulations also restrict the collection of evidence at the crash site. For example, unless they have a warrant, police in New Hampshire are barred from seizing a driver's phone or other electronic device for evidence of distracted driving.

Holding negligent drivers accountable

Ensuring negligent drivers are held accountable for their actions is crucial for victims of distracted driving accidents. While evidence collection in these cases can present unique challenges, our car accident lawyers are well-equipped to find the facts that matter to your case and advocate for your best interests. Here are some ways in which an attorney can help build a strong case for the compensation you deserve:

  • Obtaining cell phone records: Cell phone records can help determine if the at-fault driver was using their phone at the time of the accident.
  • Analyzing social media activity: Examination of the driver's social media activity may reveal posts or messages sent around the time of the crash, indicating potential distraction.
  • Accessing in-car technology data: Data from in-car technology systems, such as GPS or infotainment systems, can help determine if the driver was engaged in distracting activities.
  • Checking surveillance and dashcam footage: Surveillance footage from nearby cameras or dashcam recordings from involved vehicles, if available, can provide visual evidence of the driver's behavior leading up to the accident.
  • Conducting eyewitness interviews: Eyewitnesses to the accident can provide additional information and corroborate details of the incident.

Injured in a crash? Contact our law firm today to see how we can help

With over 150 years of service and millions recovered for New Hampshire's injured, the car accident lawyers at Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, PA know how to build strong cases that get meaningful results. We prioritize our clients' needs and always fight for the maximum compensation they deserve. If you were injured or a loved one died in a New Hampshire car accident, contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our offices are in Dover and Portsmouth, and we serve clients statewide. If you can't come to us, we'll go to you.

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