To say that cell phones and smartphones have changed society would be an understatement. Even the Supreme Court of the United States has noticed how ubiquitous they have become in our lives, with Justice Sotomayor once referring to them as an “appendage” in an oral argument. Many people, particularly those under the age of 30, can hardly imagine life or work without the help of their smartphone.
As with all huge technological developments, though, cell phones have come with downsides as well as benefits. Chief among these downsides is the dramatic increase in car accidents from distracted driving and the potential for an increased risk of cancer.
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian have been monitoring these ongoing dilemmas to better represent their clients who may have been hurt by cell phone and smartphone technology.
Car Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving Skyrocket
Cell phones have been around since the 1980s. However, as anyone who has watched a movie from that time period already knows, the technology was not good enough for mobile phones to become commonplace: they were too bulky, had to be used in a car, or had terrible reception. Texting had not been invented yet, and there was no internet connection.
Once cell phones had developed enough to become convenient and useful, though, the number of car crashes that were caused by people using them increased exponentially. With texting and even mobile internet use becoming more widespread around 2005, distracted driving stats became scary: according to one study, fatalities from distracted driving rose 28% from 2005 to 2008. Even with laws prohibiting texting while driving or requiring drivers to use hands-free sets to make phone calls, distracted driving continues to be a significant problem in the U.S. Continued campaigning by public safety advocates have only marginally helped.
Most recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that 3,450 people died at the hands of a distracted driver in the year 2016, alone. Approximately 400,000 get hurt by distracted drivers every year. Because these accidents and fatalities are caused by the distracted driver and not the victims, the victims deserve to be compensated. After all, their injuries were not their fault, and would not have happened were it not for the distracted driver's poor decision to use their cell phone while driving.
The Increased Risk of a Car Accident When Using a Cell Phone
It is more dangerous to drive while distracted by a cell phone or smartphone. However, certain facts and figures make it even more disturbing just how dangerous it can be.
For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it takes an average of five seconds to read a text message. When driving 55 miles per hour on a highway, then, reading a text message means taking your eyes off the road for so long that you are driving blindly for the length of an entire football field. Worse, the distraction that a cell phone call or a text message can have on a driver is not limited to the time it takes to participate in the conversation, itself – drivers continue to be distracted by the text or phone call even after it has ended.
Cell Phones and the Potential Risk for Cancer
In addition to causing a dramatic increase in distracted driving, cell phones are also being investigated as a potential increase in the risk of developing cancer. While studies have struggled to put together a definitive connection between using a cell phone and cancer, there are still serious reasons to worry.
In theory, it would not be surprising if cell phones or smartphones cause cancer. Both use specific types of radiation to connect to the internet or to wirelessly broadcast text messages or phone calls to cell phone towers or even to satellites. While not all radiation is lethal or even dangerous – low energy radiation like sunlight and even the colors we see on a daily basis are a form of radiation – others can be. Forms of high energy radiation like X-rays, for example, have been known to cause cancer when absorbed in significant amounts or regularly over a long period of time.
The type of radiation that cell phones use is on the radiofrequency spectrum, a mid-energy range of radiation used by things like microwaves and radar. This puts cell and smartphones in a middle ground that scientists and researchers are unsure about. Theoretically, at least, cell phones may or may not cause cancer.
Studies have attempted to determine if there is a correlation between cell phone use and brain cancer or tumors – the type of cancer researchers think would be most likely. While many of these studies have found no correlation between cell phone use and cancer, a handful of other studies have found a “statistically significant” connection between the two. There is still plenty of controversy over the topic as researchers struggle to find out what the risks are.
The Mayo Clinic, though, has noted an important piece of the puzzle: it may still be too early to tell. The increased risk of lung cancer that comes from cigarettes is now widely known and accepted. However, it took many years to isolate the cause of the cancer and conclusively show that cigarettes were to blame. Right now, we are still in the early stages of determining whether cancer and cell phones are related.
The Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian Represent Innocent Victims
The personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian strive to represent innocent victims in court and get them the compensation they need and deserve. If it was a cell phone or smartphone that was the ultimate cause of your injury, our attorneys can fight to make sure its manufacturers or users are held accountable. Contact us online to get started.