Distracted driving has become one of the most significant hazards on Utah roads. Distractions such as cell phones, food and drink, and grooming take a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, and attention off the task of driving.
Distracted driving causes thousands of motor vehicle accidents annually in Utah, leading to injuries and even deaths. Although Utah law prohibits drivers from using handheld wireless communications devices while driving, not everyone obeys the law, and other distractions can still lead to devastating accidents.
Current Statistics and Facts on Utah Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, the state saw 27,514 motor vehicle accidents between 2017 and 2021 caused by distracted driving. That figure includes 15,004 crashes resulting in injuries and 74 deaths.
Drivers under 20 accounted for 31 percent of distracted driving accidents in Utah – more than any other age group. Fatal distracted driving accidents were most likely to occur on Fridays, Saturdays, and Tuesdays. Forty-eight percent of fatal distracted driving accidents occurred between 12 noon and 7 p.m., with most of those occurring between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Studies by the Utah Department of Public Safety and Department of Transportation found that about a quarter of Utah drivers admitted to texting while driving within the past 30 days. In one recent year, 36.7 percent of distracted driving accidents involved cell phone use out of 5,231 distracted driving-related accidents.
Utah’s Distracted Driving Laws
Utah law prohibits drivers from using wireless communications devices while on the road.
Utah Code §41-6a-1716 defines a wireless communication device to include:
- Cell phones
- Portable telephones
- Text messaging devices
- Personal digital assistants
- Notebook computers
- GPS receivers
- Any device used to display broadcast television, videos, movies, or other visual images
- Any communication device that can initiate or receive communication, data, or other information
Under the law, a driver may not use a wireless communication device while operating a moving motor vehicle to use their hands to:
- Write or send written communications
- Dial a phone number
- Access the internet
- Record video
- Take photos
- Enter data
- Read a written communication
- View a video or photograph
However, drivers may use a wireless communication device to make a voice call or view navigation, especially by using hands-free or voice-operated technology in the device or the vehicle. Drivers may also use wireless communication devices during a medical emergency or to report a safety hazard or crime to the authorities.
Violating the distracted driving law constitutes a Class C misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $100. However, the offense increases to a Class B misdemeanor when an individual causes serious bodily injury in an accident while using a wireless communication device or has a prior conviction for distracted driving within the last three years.
Contact a Distracted Driving Attorney Today
If a distracted driver in Utah hurt you, they could owe you compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. Let Swenson & Shelley help you pursue every cent you’re owed. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable Utah car accident attorney. When the worst has happened, we fight for what’s best for you.