Arizona

Injured by a Distracted Driver? What Arizona Laws are in Place to Protect You?

February 18, 2021

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were more than 129,000 total vehicle collisions during the latest reporting year in the state. While not all of these motor vehicle accidents were the result of distracted driving, many of them were. According to the CDC, around nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured due to distracted driving each day across the country. Arizona has various laws in place regulating distracted driving behaviors, and these laws mainly focus on mobile phone usage behind the wheel.

Arizona distracted driving laws

What Is the New Cell Phone Law in Arizona?

As of January 2021, Arizona will officially become the 49th state to ban texting while driving. This is the latest of various laws over the last few years aimed at cutting the number of distracted driving cases across the state. Texting while driving is only one of the behaviors targeted by Arizona officials.

As part of the law that went into effect January 1, 2021, drivers will be prohibited from holding a wireless communication device while operating their vehicles. Until that day, drivers can still use handheld devices.

There are other laws regarding the use of technology behind the wheel in AZ. These laws include:

  • Prohibiting text messaging by teenage drivers as well as adult drivers who have had their license for less than six months.
  • Prohibiting school bus drivers from using cell phones while driving.

Although the new law has taken effect, there are a few ways that drivers may still be able to use their devices:

  • Drivers will be able to make phone calls if they use earpieces, headphones, or a connected wrist device.
  • Vehicles with built-in interfaces with wireless handheld devices are exempt.
  • Drivers can text using voice-only technology.
  • A driver will still be able to use their phone’s GPS or map feature as long as they are doing so in a hands-free mode.
  • A handheld device can still be used if the car is not in motion, such as at a red light or when pulled over (though this could present problems of not seeing when a light turns green again).

How Can You Prove You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver?

Aside from texting or talking on the phone, distracted driving may also include activities such as eating while behind the wheel, applying makeup, driving and “playing” DJ, as well as any other activity that could potentially take the driver’s eye off the road.  So, how do you provide evidence proving that a distracted driver caused an accident? Below are just a few potential methods in which an experienced personal injury attorney will attempt to prove your claim:

  • Officer Testimony or Police Report

Following a motor vehicle collision, the responding officer will file a police report documenting the circumstances of the incident. Within the police report may be included an initial assessment of fault. In this regard, if you witnessed the other driver talking on the phone immediately preceding the collision, let the responding police officer know so it can be included. While the police report may not be admitted into the civil court proceedings, it can lend a hand in attorney negotiations by providing leverage in your dispute.

  • The Driver Admits It

While most of us know that we should refrain from admitting fault of guilt after a car crash, some drivers occasionally blurt out things like: “I am so sorry! I dropped my phone and looked down for one second and didn’t see you stop.” While this would seem like a slam-dunk in proving fault, it must be noted that this admission may not be admissible in civil court under hearsay rules. That said, if the admission were included in the police report, your attorney would gain a bit of leverage, especially in pursuing an out-of-court settlement.

  • Witnesses

Witnesses can include passengers who were involved in the auto accident as well as bystanders who saw the accident. Upon arriving at the scene of the accident, the police will want to gather witness statements as well as contact information to better access just who exactly was at fault. In most car crash scenarios, witness statements are a valuable asset for attorneys when arguing your claim. They provide written viewpoints as to what took place, and witnesses can even be called upon at trial to testify in regards to any distracted driving behaviors that they saw.

  • Videos or Photos

It doesn’t take a lawyer to know that the best evidence usually comes in the form of video surveillance. Cell phone videos shot by a passenger or bystander, police dash cams, cameras mounted at the top of traffic lights or nearby buildings can all be utilized in court or out-of-court settlement conferences to bust distracted drivers red handed.

  • Cell Phone Records

What some may not know is that attorneys can utilize cell phone records to prove that the suspected distracted driver was using their cell phone at the time of the motor vehicle crash. In such a case, it is important to log the time of the incident, report it to the responding police officer, and request that the time be included in the police report. Your lawyer will then collect cell phone records provided by the at-fault driver’s carrier, which can show time and durations of incoming and outgoing calls, timestamps on text messages, and data communications with satellites used in GPS features. By showing a correlation between the time of call or text and the auto collision, your attorney can make a strong argument suggesting that the car accident was in fact, caused by the distracted driver’s cell phone use.

At Torgenson Law, our Phoenix car accident lawyers are well versed in Arizona distracted driving laws. If you were involved in an accident due to a distracted driver, contact us today for a free consultation!