A recent study of Connecticut drivers has disproven the old myth that women can't stop talking on the phone. Since the law banning hand-held cellphones went into effect six years ago, men have consistently been ticketed more often than women for talking on hand-held cellphones or texting while driving.
The study, conducted by the Associated Press, found that, of the total number of drivers ticketed for distracted driving in 2006, between 52 and 54 percent were men. In 2011 alone, men received nearly 16,000 tickets while women got only 13,690; in 2010, the tally of tickets was 25,362 for men and 21,346 for women respectively.
It may seem that the trend of more men than women receiving tickets for distracted driving is especially surprising, since women make up well over half of the 2.5 million licensed drivers in the Constitution State. However, experts have a reasonable explanation: men take more risks.
The fact that Connecticut's men are violating the state's distracted driving law at a higher rate makes sense, according to David Snyder of the American Insurance Association. "Statistics show that male drivers are more likely than female drivers to engage in risk-taking behavior and more males than females die in motor vehicle crashes every year," Snyder told the Associated Press.
The male predisposition to risk-taking while driving is not unique to Connecticut; it has also been proven in other locales. According to a nationwide 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of men who text admitted to sending or reading messages while they were driving, as opposed to 42 percent of women. There was no significant difference between the sexes when it came to using a cellphone while driving-78 percent of men admitted to it, compared to 72 percent of women.
Distracted Driving's Toll on Roadway Safety
Whether the driver is a man or a woman, distracted driving is a proven safety threat to motorists in Connecticut and nationwide. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 4,000 people lost their lives and an estimated 416,000 were injured in 2010 because of distracted driving-related accidents.
Cellphone use while driving is a significant factor in driver distraction. A recent study showed that using a hand-held or hands-free cellphone while driving can delay a driver's reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent-the maximum limit in all states. In addition, studies have shown that texting while driving makes an accident a whopping 23 times more likely.
Connecticut has responded to the safety threat of distracted driving by banning the use of all handheld phones while driving. In addition, the law prohibits sending or reading a text message while behind the wheel, except in the case of certain emergencies.
Texting while driving or using a cellphone illegally in Connecticut is a primary offense, meaning that police can pull a driver over solely based on that action without the need for another traffic violation like speeding or failing to yield to have also occurred. If caught texting or illegally using a cellphone while driving, drivers can be fined $125 for a first violation, $200 for a second and $400 for every subsequent violation. This fine is in addition to fines for any other moving violation that the driver has committed.
Despite the legislature's well-meaning attempts to increase safety on Connecticut's roads, plenty of drivers will continue to put others at risk by choosing not to follow the law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for more information about your legal rights and options.