We all are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, and specifically, the role that cell phone usage plays in those dangers. And yet, many of us continue to take the risk. In fact, 69% of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 acknowledged using their mobile phone while driving.

If you cause an accident while texting and driving or using your cell phone in a non-hands-free capacity while driving, you now risk being liable for double or even triple damages as of October 1st, under a new law in Connecticut, House Bill 7126.

Texting or responding to a text while driving takes approximately five seconds. At 55 mph, that is the length of a football field.  But on average, it only takes 3 seconds of taking your eyes off the road for a crash to occur.

In 2016, there were 3,450 fatalities resulting from distracted driving. Of those, 486 of those fatalities were specifically due to cell phone usage.

NEW PENALTIES FOR TEXTING AND DRIVING

The penalties for texting and driving or using your cell phone in a non-hands-free capacity while driving are about to become a lot stiffer. Connecticut has upped the ante in terms of damages, should you cause an accident while using your mobile phone. You now risk being liable for double or even triple damages as of October 1st, under a new law, House Bill 7126. This new law adds mobile device usage to a lengthy list of infractions that allows judge or jury to award double and triple the damages previously permitted in civil lawsuit cases where mobile phone usage is determined to be a factor in an accident.

OTHER INFRACTIONS THAT RESULT IN HIGHER DAMAGES

Other infractions that result in these higher penalties are:

  • speeding
  • traveling unreasonably fast for conditions
  • reckless driving
  • driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, DUI with a child passenger
  • operating any vehicle designated to transport children, including a school bus, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • failure to drive on the right
  • passing in a no-passing zone
  • driving on the wrong side of a divided highway
  • driving the wrong way on a one-way highway or rotary
  • failing to grant the right of way to a vehicle in a rotary
  • following another vehicle unreasonably closely with the intent to harass or intimidate

DRIVING APPS THAT DISCOURAGE CELL PHONE USAGE WHILE DRIVING

Talk to the younger drivers in your household. Car accidents are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year olds, with distracted driving as one of the factors. But adults are guilty as well. In fact, according to a study by AT&T, 77 percent of teens say that while the adults in their lives tell them not to text and drive, they see those very same adults send texts or emails while they are driving. Be a good example. If the lure of the message is simply too difficult to resist while driving, consider installing one of these no texting while driving apps.

If you own a business, this also affects those in your employ. Make sure your employees fully understand both the physical and fiscal risks of distracted driving. If you own a business with a vehicle fleet, consider a monitoring service. Lifesaver is a mobile app solution recommended by Cincinnati Insurance. It discourages drivers from using their smartphones while driving. This app monitors phone usage while driving, and when paired with an employer driven reward / penalty program, helps modify driver behavior, and allows employers to identify any issues with drivers. Because Cincinnati Insurance has partnered with Lifesaver, if your business insurance is with Cincinnati, you may be eligible for fleet discounts.

The real deterrent to texting and driving should be the risk of injury and death to yourself and others. Put your phone away!

Although the financial ramifications of this House Bill 7126 are significant, the real deterrent should be the risk of injury and death to yourself and others. Each life is precious; we can’t take back an action that causes injury or death. House Bill 7126 gives you an additional reason to put the phone away while you are driving.

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