Texting drivers continue to pose a deadly threat in Arizona

Americans sent approximately 1.7 billion text messages per month in 2012, according to data cited by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of lawmakers, police, parents and educators across the nation, a troubling number of text messages continue to be sent and received by drivers while behind the wheel, resulting in thousands of preventable traffic accidents, injuries and deaths each year.

Distracted driving statistics

At any given daylight moment, an estimated 600,000 drivers in the U.S. are texting or using handheld mobile devices, according to data cited by the U.S. Department of Transportation. With this in mind, it is not hard to believe that distraction-related crashes in 2012 injured approximately 421,000 people and killed another 3,328 nationwide.

In Arizona, the distracted driving issue is especially pressing because state legislators have been unsuccessful so far in passing restrictions on texting and cellphone use for all drivers. Data collected by the Arizona Department of Public Safety over a four-month period ending in April 2014 showed a total of 1,163 vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving in the state; cellphone use was a factor in at least 127 of those crashes.

Texting while driving: a distraction trifecta

Regardless of the specific cause, distracted driving is always dangerous. However, using a handheld cellphone while driving - particularly to send and receive text messages - is especially hazardous due to its unique characteristics.

In order to drive as safely as possible, a driver must be mentally focused on the task of driving while also keeping his or her eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Texting while driving interferes with each of these three tasks by occupying the driver's hands, eyes and concentration all at once, which greatly increases the risk of accidents. In contrast, many other potentially distracting activities such as talking to passengers or listening to the radio will involve only one or two types of distraction.

Another factor that makes texting while driving uniquely risky is the fact that the distraction it creates is often drawn out and repeated over an extended period of time, due to the back-and-forth nature of text messaging. Thus, while other distractions like reaching for an object or adjusting the climate control tend to be relatively brief and self-contained, text messaging often creates an ongoing source of distraction.

Distracted drivers can be liable for injuries

When someone is hurt or killed by a distracted driver in Arizona, the law provides that the at-fault driver can be held liable for the harm that has occurred - regardless of whether he or she is facing criminal charges in connection to the crash. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash with a distracted driver, talk to a personal injury lawyer to learn more about the possibility of pursuing compensation for your medical expenses, lost income and other damages.