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Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.

Unfortunately, texting-and-driving has surpassed drunk-driving as the leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers. Over 3,000 lose their lives each year in texting-and-driving accidents, compared to 2,700 per year in drunk-driving accidents. Despite some surveys’ claims that texting while driving is becoming less “socially acceptable” among teenagers, over 50% have admitted to doing so regularly, and this is rather alarming for many obvious reasons; the most important may be that, as studies have shown, the risk of a car accident is twenty-three times greater for those who text while driving. What’s equally alarming is that 80% of adults have also been guilty (at least once), and the regular fifty-percent rate of texting drivers is the same among adults as teenagers!

There is an oft-quoted “two-second rule” in driving, which allows for a 2-second gap between a driver and the car in front of him/her. The problem here, of course, is that the average time it takes to receive or send a text, about 4.6 seconds, is more than twice as long. A car can move the length of a football field in this time; even a split second of distraction can have devastating consequences.

Illinois generally prohibits texting while driving with only a few exceptions, including: reporting an emergency and/or communicating with emergency personnel; using a phone’s hands-free or voice-activated modes; or if the car is parked on the shoulder of a roadway. This ban on texting is a “primary law,” meaning an officer can pull over a driver for doing so even if it is the only apparent violation.

Many states have also begun to bring criminal charges against drivers whose texting resulted in a fatal traffic accident. In one landmark case, 18 year-old Aaron Deveau of Massachusetts was texting while driving and swerved across the street’s center line, hitting an oncoming truck and killing 55 year-old Donald Bowley, a father of three. Deveau was later convicted of motor vehicle homicide and received two years in prison and a fifteen-year license suspension. In another case in Wisconsin, 19 year-old Stephanie Kanoff was texting while driving and struck and killed 21 year-old Dylan Elefson, who was pulled over on the side of the road; she was later sentenced to three years in prison for homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.

Drivers can face not only criminal charges for causing accidents while texting and driving, but civil claims, as well:

  • In Fulton County, GA, a driver who was texting struck a woman’s car and her child, now-15-year-old Chasity Anderson, was thrown from her car seat. She was seven at the time of the accident and suffered a fractured left orbital bone, two temporal skull fractures, and soft tissue damage. A jury awarded her $1.5 million for her injuries.
  • In Bunnell, Florida, Cacilia Carter was struck by Edward O’Guin, a driver who was texting, who ran a stop sign and caused an accident when he drove into the path of a tractor-trailer. Carter was in a coma for three weeks following the accident and left completely (and permanently) disabled due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). She was later awarded $4.3 million in compensation.
  • In Miami-Dade County, Florida, Torres (last name), a 40 year-old mother of two, was killed in an accident caused by 17 year-old Cruz Govin (last name), who was texting while weaving in and out of traffic and driving 20 – 30 miles above the speed limit. The verdict was $8.8 million for Torres’s surviving family members.

For the safety of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the road, these statistics should be known to help keep the use of phones while driving to an absolute minimum, and texting while driving should be discouraged at every opportunity.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident due to another’s negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact Mike Agruss Law today for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based personal injury law firm, and helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people and not the powerful, we will file your claim and take care of the insurance company, medical bills, property damage, and lost income. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, our personal injury lawyers are not paid attorney fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.

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