Who can you trust these days? Seems like the circle is getting smaller and smaller of confidants and close friends who will give you the honest-to-goodness truth. That, however, might not be applicable to big businesses because most companies are looked at skeptically by consumers in the wake of fraud, embezzelment, and conspiracy.
So why should it be any different when you hear that cellphone companies have known for nearly three decades that their products cause automobile accidents because they take the driver’s attention off the road? After all, they have a product to sell, one that is based on the idea of being able to communicate wherever we are. For most of us, that means talking on our cell phone while driving.
Our car accident lawyers feel that it is our duty to inform you that talking on a cellphone and driving is never a good idea, but it would be naive of us to believe that it doesn’t happen or that it hasn’t been happening for the past 25 years. Just know that when you talk on the phone behind the wheel, you become a distracted driver. And distracted drivers cause auto accidents.
For cellphone companies, it all comes down to profits over product liability. In 1985, revenue generated by wireless service providers was doing a healthy $354 million. Ten years later, that number jumped to $16 billion. In 2008, it skyrocketed to $148 billion. That’s A LOT of money.
Canadian Ministry of Health, along with a few other groups, participated in financing a study to determine whether the combination of cellphones and drivers cellphones equaled a good mix.
The answer: no — a big NO.
The 1997 study concluded that likeliness of accidents increased four times when a driver was talking on a cellphone. But years before the study, others had tried to blow the whistle on cars and phones, only to be dismissed immediately.
“Learning about distraction would not be very helpful to the overall business model,” said a junior researcher at GTE (later Verizon).
The researcher was told by his supervisor when he brought concerns about potential wrongful deaths on the road from drivers who were focused on their phones rather than operating their vehicle. It scared him as well as others who were not a part of the growing mobile phone industry.
In 1984, the AAA urged drivers to park before using their car phones with television and radio ads. The company’s Foundation for Traffic Safety then published findings in 1991 that showed how drivers had a hard time responding to difficult situations when they were on the phone, were often prone to making improper turns or causing property damage with their cars.
Not until a few years ago did cellphone companies begin to address the risks from creating devices that worked with your cellphone, but allowed your hands to be free behind the wheel of a car. New laws in states like California and New York require motorists to use hands-free technology when talking on their cell phones. Surely it would lower the amount of car accidents caused by cellphones, right?
The New England Journal of Medicine published a report linking the behaviors of driving with a hands-free cellphone device to that of driving under the influence of alcohol. “This relative risk is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit,” stated the report, which emphasized the fact that drivers are distracted by the phone in various ways, not just by holding it. Whatever could take their attention away from the road presented a problem.
Our firm’s car accident lawyers know from experience that cellphone in the car is only a good to have in the event that a car accident happens and you need to call for help. But when they cause more accidents than they help to solve, then there is a big problem that needs to be addressed more seriously than it already has.
Call us now at 1-858-551-2090 or click here for a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer and find out how we can help you. We speak English and Spanish, and we look forward to providing advice for your case. No fee if no recovery.
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines