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Texting and Driving in Idaho Remains a Significant Problem

A young lady was driving northbound on Maple Grove Road and went through the intersection of Franklin Road located in Southwest Boise. As she was driving through the intersection her smart phone "dinged" indicating that someone had sent her a text message. She picked up the phone that was lying on the car seat next to her and started reading the text message. After reading the message, she looked up to refocus her attention on the road ahead and noticed that traffic in front of her had stopped. But before she was able to react, her vehicle slammed into the rear end of the vehicle in front of her that had stopped for other vehicles in front of her. The force of the crash catapulted the vehicle in front. Shaken, the young lady, got out of her car and approached the vehicle in front of her. She saw that the damage she had caused totaled both vehicles. As she approached the other car, she found the other driver was wincing in pain and was in need of an ambulance. Because of her texting while driving, the young lady had seriously injured a single mom. The injuries she incurred as a result of the crash prevented her from being able to return to work for weeks causing her and her children to suffer a great hardship.

In Idaho, texting while driving is illegal and constitutes an infraction. Notwithstanding, the illegality of the practice, texting is a common cause of auto accidents in the State of Idaho.

WHAT CONSTITUTES TEXTING?

Texting constitutes the review, preparation or transmission of written communications by way of a handheld wireless device. Under Idaho law, it does not include the use of a voice-operated or hands free device.

WHY DOES TEXTING CONSTITUTE A HAZARD?

Texting while driving is also commonly referred to as distracted driving which takes a driver’s focus of attention away from the road. The aforementioned story demonstrates how and the hazards that await ahead of the distracted driver. Every driver needs to remain alert in focusing one’s attention on the road in order to react to any hazard that the driver may incur including another vehicle changing lanes abruptly, vehicles stopping for other traffic, potholes, debris on the road and any other road condition or hazard that may require the driver to take immediate evasive action to avoid a hazard. The following table demonstrates how far a vehicle travels in feet per second depending on how fast a vehicle is traveling in miles per hour.

MPH                    Feet Per Second

10

14.67

15

22.00

20

29.33

25

36.67

30

44.00

35

51.33

40

58.67

45

66.00

50

73.34

55

80.67

60

88.00

65

95.34

70

102.67

75

110.00

80

117.34

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving a vehicle while intoxicated.1 NHTSA also reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for an average of of 4.6 seconds which is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded driving at 65 mph!

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING RESULTS IN A NUMBER OF DEATHS AND INJURIES ON IDAHO’S ROADS

Texting while driving prevents a driver from being able to identify and react to various hazards on the road including a driver switching lanes, debris on the road, another vehicle slowing down for traffic in front of the vehicle. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis published a study finding that texting causes each year over 300 deaths and 330,000 injuries.2 Texting is now considered the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers. Texting isn’t limited to teenage drivers either. Approximately 47% of adults have admitted to texting while driving. This results in texting drivers being 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than those drivers not texting.3

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING IN IDAHO IS ILLEGAL

In response to the growing threat of texting while driving, Idaho enacted Idaho Code § 49-1401A which reads as follows:

49-1401A. TEXTING WHILE DRIVING. (1) As used in this section, "texting" means engaging in the review of, or manual preparation and transmission of, written communications via handheld wireless devices. This definition does not include voice-operated or hands free devices that allow the user to review, prepare and transmit a text message without the use of either hand except to activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function.

(2) Texting, as that term is defined in subsection (1) of this section, while driving a moving motor vehicle shall constitute an infraction provided this does not apply to voice-operated or hands free devices that allow the user to review, prepare and transmit a text message without the use of either hand except to activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function. Every person who violates this section shall be guilty of an infraction. A conviction under this section shall not result in violation point counts as prescribed in section 49-326, Idaho Code. In addition, a conviction under this section shall not be deemed to be a moving traffic violation for the purpose of establishing rates of motor vehicle insurance charged by a casualty insurer.

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING CONSTITUTES NEGLIGENCE PER SE

In Idaho, the violation of a safety statute constitutes negligence per se. Therefore, a driver that is causes a motor vehicle accident while texting is not only guilty of an infraction, but is also considered negligent per se and liable for any injuries and damages proximately caused by said negligence.

Texting while driving is dangerous and increases the risk significantly that you will be involved in a motor vehicle collision if you succumb to the temptation of texting while driving.

Notwithstanding the illegality of texting while driving, it remains a significant cause of death and injury on Idaho’s roads. People who text and drive should be held accountable for their negligence.

BOISE PERSONAL INJURY AND AUTO ACCIDENT TRIAL ATTORNEY ALAN MORTON HAS OVER 31 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN HELPING VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENCE SEEK COMPENSATION FOR THEIR INJURIES CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OF OTHERS

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of the negligence of another driver, you should consult with an experienced trial lawyer to ascertain your legal rights and remedies and to avoid the common mistakes that victims of injury make in pursuing an insurance claim. Boise Personal Injury and Auto Accident Trial Lawyer Alan Morton has over 31 years of experience in helping victims of personal injury and wrongful death seek compensation for the injuries and damages they incur as a result of the negligence of other drivers. Mr. Morton can be reached at 208.344.5555 or toll free at 888.716.8021 or by completing an online contact form.   Mr. Morton is willing to schedule a free initial consultation at his office or your home, workplace, hospital or any other convenient location to help you better understand your legal rights and remedies.

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Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer