In new vehicles filled with technology, it has become harder and harder for drivers to stay focused on the road. Advocates, safety coalitions, government traffic agencies, and many others have worked hard to bring awareness to this important issue. Their efforts paid off last year when the state legislature passed new, tougher laws to ban smartphone use while driving in Arkansas.
It is important for Jonesboro drivers to understand the new restrictions on phone use while driving. Following these rules will prevent both injuries and the unpleasant consequences of being found liable for causing an accident.
The New Ban on Texting and Driving in Arkansas
THV 11 reports that it is now illegal to text or post to social media while driving. Fines for texting violations can be doubled if the distracted driver causes an accident or the offense takes place in a prohibited zone. Evidence of a traffic violation for texting while driving can also be used to prove that the driver was at fault for an accident.
Like other traffic violations (such as running a red light, speeding, failing to yield the right of way, etc.), a texting violation is evidence that the driver failed to meet his or her duty of care. All drivers on the public roadways of Arkansas have a legal obligation to drive with the caution of a responsible driver. Texting while driving violates this legal obligation.
Is Cell Phone Use While Driving Ever Safe?
Of course, texting while driving is not the only way in which a driver can be negligent. Even a driver who obeys the new law and uses a phone only for calls can still be found liable for an accident that occurs as a result. Calls (even those made with hands-free devices) still divert a driver’s attention from the road. Hands-free devices should also not give drivers a false sense of security. In spite of the fact that they allow for calls with less physical intervention, they still require the cognitive resources of a driver’s attention. Scientific American is just one of many media outlets that have found hands-free devices to be no safer than handheld devices for the drivers who are distracted by them.
It is also important to note that many state laws (including those of Arkansas) allow for the use of wireless communication while driving only in emergencies. Section 27-51-1504 of the Code of Arkansas provides exemptions from the ban on communications only for emergencies, and for those performing duties as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, ambulance driver, or emergency medical technician.
Even acceptable phone use is not without risk. Firefighters, police officers, and EMTs can also be distracted by using their phones while driving an emergency vehicle. No driver has special abilities to use a phone safely simply because of experience. The fact of the matter is that any phone use requires a driver to divert some amount of attention away from the road ahead, and that is always a safety hazard.
Our Jonesboro car accident attorneys have seen the years of damage caused by one distracted driver. It is important for injury victims to hold distracted drivers accountable for the losses they cause.