Talking on a Cell Phone While Driving: Is It Negligent?
Many states and cities ban texting while driving. Texting, as well as activities like searching an address book or music list or checking social media while driving, is commonly seen as negligence, or a failure to use due care while driving.
While some locales likewise ban talking on a cell phone while driving, the question of whether having a phone conversation while driving is negligent is less clear.
Negligence is the legal standard that determines fault in most personal injury cases. It asks whether a reasonable person would or would not have done something similar to what the defendant has been accused of. If the defendant didn’t do the same thing a reasonable person would have done, the defendant may be found negligent.
Texting, checking social media or setting the GPS while driving all examples of distracted driving. These examples will cause a driver to divert their hands, eyes, and attention away from the task of controlling their vehicle. Since a reasonable person would keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road, and their attention on potential obstacles, many personal injury cases involving texting while driving result in the party who was found guilty of texting to also be found guilty of negligent.
Talking on the phone, however, has raised more complex questions about negligence, especially in cases where a driver is using a headset. With the use of a headset, drivers are more likely to keep their hands and eyes on the task of driving, even if their attention is divided.
However, just how heavily that attention is divided is a matter of concern. Several studies have indicated that using a hands-free cell phone option, like a headset or in-vehicle sound systems, does not reduce distraction much more than holding the phone does.
When combined with other roadway factors like darkness, impaired visibility from the weather, or stop and go traffic, talking on a cell phone may become something a reasonable person would not have done – because a reasonable person would have realized that they needed all their attention on the challenge of driving.
It is also important to remember that whether talking on a cell phone is legal and whether it is negligent are two different questions. If talking on a cell phone while driving is illegal in a particular locale, and someone causes an accident while talking on the phone, the fact that the call is illegal may be used as evidence against them in a court of law to portray that the driver acted negligently.
Seasoned Personal Injury Attorneys Representing Accident Victims in NJ
The New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Court Law can help you seek the compensation you need after suffering injuries due to an accident caused by distracted driving. Contact us today at 866-632-4211 for a confidential consultation. We’re available seven days a week.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.