As succinctly explained by the popular law enforcement slogan, Connecticut law regarding cell phone use while driving is simple: “U drive. U text. U pay.” As set forth in Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 14-296aa, no person shall drive vehicles on Connecticut roads while using a hand-held mobile telephone to engage in a call, and drivers cannot type, send, or read a text message with a telephone or other mobile electronic device while the vehicle is in motion. The statute specifies fines that these distracted drivers must pay, ranging from $100.00 to $250.00, but does not address civil lawsuits in the event these distracted drivers cause an accident in Connecticut.
Unfortunately, distracted driving because of cell phone usage encompasses much more than the telephone calls and text messaging described in C.G.S. 14-296aa. Considering the wide range of applications available for a variety of phones, it is no longer a safe assumption to believe that another driver staring at a phone instead of the roadway is reading or sending a text message. A recent study conducted by AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign shows that: approximately forty percent of drivers use various forms of social media while driving, approximately thirty percent use internet browsers, and approximately ten percent even made video calls! Overall, approximately seventy percent of drivers admit to one form of another of smartphone activity while driving, including specific activities such as: checking e-mail (one third of drivers), using Facebook (almost thirty percent), taking a “selfie” or other picture (almost twenty percent), and using Twitter or Instagram (almost fifteen percent).
Looking at phones, whether it is to write a text message or use some other smartphone app, is particularly dangerous because it distracts drivers in at least three ways: taking the driver’s eyes off the roadway, taking hand(s) off the steering wheel, and mentally distracting the driver from the roadway. A distraction lasting for even only a second or two can have tragic consequences for others on the roadway considering how far cars can travel in a short time.
Distracted drivers cause car accidents on Connecticut roads every day, often leading to serious injuries for other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Considering the large number of drivers text messaging and using smartphone apps while driving, the personal injury attorneys at Dzialo, Pickett & Allen, P.C. investigate whether the at-fault driver in a car crash was distracted in some way.
If you are the victim of a distracted driver, it is important to speak with a motor vehicle accident attorney immediately because any fines assessed in criminal court will not cover personal injuries suffered, medical bills, or time lost from work. Please contact us to schedule a meeting in either our Middletown or Old Saybrook offices. An experienced attorney can communicate with the insurance company, file a claim, investigate the circumstances of the car collision, and help ensure that your legal and financial interests are protected.
-Eamonn Wisneski, Esq.
Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.