Car accident fatality rates, both in Arizona and across the United States, have been on the rise for several years. While there are many different causes of car accidents, distracted driving has become an increasingly common problem which contributes to the higher death rates, thanks in large part to the rise of new distractions in modern vehicles. Distracted drivers are legally responsible for compensating victims who are injured by their negligence. A Phoenix auto accident attorney can help victims assert these legal rights.

The Facts About Distracted Driving

According to Consumer Reports, traffic deaths in America rose 8.4 percent between 2014 and 2015. Traffic fatalities then rose again by 5.6 percent between 2015 and 2016. This trend was also found in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that the number of Arizona traffic fatalities rose in both 2015 and 2016. ADOT also noted that these numbers follow national trends.

But what is the cause of the increase in traffic fatalities across the country? While distracted driving is not to blame for every car accident, it has nonetheless become a major public health risk that contributes to many fatal crashes. In April 2017, KTAR reported that an estimated 741 car accidents in Arizona had already been caused by distracted driving just that year.

Distracted driving accidents cause very real and devastating losses for the families of injury victims. 12 News spoke with the family of one victim who had been killed in a motorcycle accident near Prescott. The victim, aged 74, was a retired Phoenix firefighter and grandfather. The driver who struck and killed him admitted to police on the scene that she had been searching for her cell phone when she caused the accident. She was cited for failing to control her speed to avoid a collision. The victim’s family, meanwhile, was upset that the prosecutor’s office had decided not to file homicide charges. Yet, because Arizona is one of just a few states without a statewide ban on texting and driving, it is difficult to hold perpetrators accountable.

What Phoenix Drivers Can Do to Eliminate Distractions While Driving

It is important for drivers to accept personal responsibility for their driving habits. By identifying and addressing common distractions in the vehicle, drivers can reduce the temptation to divert their attention from the road. Many new vehicles come with in-vehicle navigation, information, entertainment systems or combinations of all these features. Drivers should look for “do not disturb” features which reduce the temptation to use such programs while driving. Navigation systems should be programmed before the vehicle starts to move in order to prevent being distracted while driving.

Mobile devices and cell phones are, of course, one of the greatest sources of driver distraction. Many phone manufacturers have recognized this risk and taken steps to reduce it. Apple, for example, released a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature for its iPhones in late 2017 as part of its iOS 11. The comprehensive feature blocks users from using many different phone features while driving, not just text messaging. This addresses the problem of distracted driving from many angles.

When distracted driving accidents do occur, injury victims have legal rights which must be protected. A Phoenix auto accident attorney can help injury victims file legal claims against distracted drivers.