What is just as dangerous as driving drunk? Driving while typing or watching a video on your cell phone. The fact that cell phones are so popular and such a part of the social fabric of our society means that everyone has them and uses them for multiple purposes. A common tragedy resulting from this is the significant increase in teenagers and young adults getting in accidents because of texting or surfing the web while driving. The statistics involving cell phone usage in a car and the results of such use are alarming.
Teens especially think that they are still paying attention and being safe if they just take a quick look at the phone or type a few letters and look back at the road. The reality is that such a distraction can take up to four or five seconds and a car travels a long way in that amount of time. Another factor causing wrecks is that, even when a driver looks back to the road, their focus doesn't fully return before they look back at the phone. As a result, there is no anticipation of what might go wrong, only a recognition that the car directly in front of them isn't braking.
Obviously, texting or surfing the web while driving is negligent. There are campaigns and legal cases trying to make accidents caused by such negligence subject to punitive damages. This should worry parents and those responsible for insurance coverage. The minimum legal insurance coverage in Virginia is $25,000.00, a limit set decades ago. The cap on punitive damages is $350,000.00. (Virginia Code Section 8.01-38.1). So, even a relatively small accident could result in liability far beyond available insurance.
However, it is better not to need insurance and to avoid injuring someone altogether. There are technologies available that prevent hands on usage of cell phones while driving. Prevention is what will keep drivers safe and protect them from both liability and, more importantly, the guilt of having seriously injured someone.