Distracted driving has increased since cellphones became widespread and risen further since smartphones became common. Once, if you wanted to contact someone, you had to stop your car and find a phone booth. Now you can call, video call, text message, instant message, voice message, video message and email, all while continuing to drive.
Montana is currently the only state without distracted driving laws. It is legal to use your cellphone while driving unless you are in one of the counties or cities that introduced local laws against it. It is no surprise that distracted driving deaths per mile are some of the highest in the country.
Just because there is no law forbidding you from doing something does not mean it is safe or a good idea. There is also no law against diving into one of Montana’s rivers during spring runoff when you do not know how to swim. The difference is that jumping into a river is unlikely to harm anyone else.
Research shows that driving while using your cellphone considerably increases the risk of a crash. Results from different studies vary, but the risk of a driver being in a fatal crash seems to be between two and eight times higher when using a phone. Some studies suggest that using a hands-free device is less dangerous than holding your phone in your hand. However, it still increases your chances of crashing.
Putting away your phone while driving seems a small price to pay for cutting your chances of dying by at least half. However, until Montana implements laws, the roads will be full of others using their phones at the wheel. If one of them injures you, seek legal help to understand your options.