If you think that you are seeing more and more drivers using smartphones while behind the wheel, you would be right. An increase in driver phone use is causing an alarming increase in traffic fatalities at red lights. When drivers are looking at their phones instead of the road, they are more likely to run red lights and cause serious collisions.

You already know that smartphones are not going anywhere anytime soon. For many people in Arizona, they are a part of everyday life. This is especially true for younger drivers in high school and college. These age groups have largely grown up with access to these devices and may struggle with the idea of not having a connection at all times.

Deaths at red lights are going up

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in 2017, there were 939 deaths in collisions caused by drivers who ran red lights. This figure is at a 10-year high and is 28% higher than fatalities in 2012. Fatalities in these types of accidents rose every year between 2012 and 2017.

Even though drivers who run red lights are the ones responsible for these accidents, they are not the primary victims. Occupants of other vehicles make up 46% of deaths, and pedestrians or cyclists make up 5%. Drivers who cause these types of accidents account for only 35% of all deaths.

Are phones to blame?

Distracted driving increased by 10% between Aug. 2018 and Aug. 2019. Smartphones and phone addicts could be responsible for much of that increase. Phone addicts who cannot put their smartphones away for even important tasks generally ignore the road for 28% of the time they spend driving. A survey from ZenDrive says that phone addicts are actually more dangerous than drunk drivers.

Some people may want to blame the rise in red light fatalities on the fact that people are driving more than they did a decade ago. While it is true that overall mileage is up since 2008, researchers say this alone cannot account for the sharp increase in traffic fatalities. Something else — namely smartphone use — is at play.

What to do after an accident

If a driver ran a red light and hit your vehicle, you already know how serious the situation is. Hopefully you received prompt medical care, and if you did not, you should seek treatment right away. But doing so can be scary if you are worried about medical bills and other costs.

You should not have to suffer because another driver engaged in risky behavior behind the wheel. These types of serious collisions can not only be physically and emotionally traumatizing, but they can financially drain victims. If you need help addressing these types of damages, you should consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. A knowledgeable attorney can help walk you through this process and can be an important ally if the insurance company tries to lowball your compensation.