Here’s What You Should Know About Distracted Driving in Arizona

Here’s a sobering reality about driving in 2024: in today’s age of technology, there are more distractions than ever. 

So much so that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which is a national campaign with a goal to save lives and end distracted driving by raising awareness about the dangers. 

While car crashes can happen for a variety of reasons, including unpredictable weather conditions or because of an impaired driver, one of the main culprits that continues to become more common is distracted driving. 

If you’re paying more attention to something other than the road, you’re putting passengers, motorists, and pedestrians at significant risk – and you may be violating Arizona law. 

Here are 7 sobering facts you should know about distracted driving in Arizona. 

 1.  Distracted driving is considered any activity that diverts attention away from driving safely.

Cell phone usage gets a lot of attention when it comes to distracted driving—and for good reason. Talking, texting, or surfing the web on your phone is among the most common causes of distracted driving. But distractions can also include eating, drinking, fiddling with GPS or the radio, applying makeup, reaching for something inside the car, or talking with passengers.

2. In 2022, 57 people died on Arizona roads because of distracted driving.

Thousands of people are killed, and hundreds of thousands more are seriously injured in distracted driving crashes each year across the U.S. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT), there were 8,988 crashes and 57 fatalities on Arizona roadways thanks to distracted driving. And the real number is likely to be higher because drivers may not admit to distraction to avoid civil or criminal liability. It’s not an insignificant number and the deaths were entirely preventable. 

3.  If you’re using your phone while driving in Arizona, you’re breaking the law. 

Under Arizona law, it’s illegal to use a cell phone while driving unless it’s in a hands-free mode. You are prohibited from holding or supporting your device, communicating via text (read, write or send), and scrolling through social media or watching videos. If you have been found to be in violation of the law, you are subject to civil penalties and fines (anywhere from $75 to $149 for the first violation and as much as $250 for each one after).   

It seems absurd to spell out that you cannot do any of those things while driving a moving vehicle but in “The True Cost of Economic and Societal Impacts of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2019”, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says distracted driving fatalities are likely in excess of 10,000 deaths every year. And the percentage of traffic fatalities caused by distracted driving is closer to 29% as opposed to 10%.   

4.  Distracted driving is like traveling the length of a football field blindfolded.

The NHTSA says it’s impossible to safely text and drive a car at the same time. In fact, sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for at least five seconds. If you’re traveling at 55 mph, that’s like driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. 

5.  Every day, nine people die in the U.S. because of distracted driving. 

In 2022, there were 3,308 people killed and an estimated 289,310 more injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. That equals nine people killed daily because of a lack of attention behind the wheel.

6.  Your brain can only do one thing at a time. 

Distracted driving is one of the most common – and dangerous – driver mistakes. You might think, ‘it will just take a few seconds to read this’ but your brain is not equipped to handle more than one thing at a time, no matter how “good” at multitasking you’ve become. When you are distracted, your reaction time, focus and your vision are compromised, which puts all other passengers, motorists, and pedestrians in harm’s way. 

7.  When you’re driving, everything else can wait. 

There are many ways you can avoid distracted driving. Namely, save the text message for when you arrive. Or do what you need to do before you even turn on the vehicle. 

If you must answer a call or respond to something in the moment, pull over to a safe location and put your car in park. Is your phone already too much of a distraction? Put it in the backseat or trunk of your car. And keep this rule in mind: if the car is on, the phone stays off. 

The Arizona DOT says it best, “No email, text or song skip is worth your life. Keep your eyes on the road and just drive. Everything else can wait.” 

Stay Vigilant Every Day to Reduce Crashes

Even though April is designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it should remain top of mind every single time you get in the car. It will take all of us to reduce the number of crashes due to distracted driving. 

If you have been injured in a traffic accident and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.