Citizens of Connecticut are right to think that smartphones have changed the way we live. In fact, most people have a hard time putting their phones down even when a lapse in attention can be costly-such as when behind the wheel.

Texting while driving is a habit that is increasingly behind many car accidents. Research shows that it has become the principal form of distracted driving and that the average driver usually takes 4.6 seconds to read or send a text message. If that person is driving at 55 miles per hour, he or she has traveled the length of a football field in that time. Unfortunately, this is more than enough time to end up in or cause a car accident.

A national survey done by insurance giant State Farm shows another cause for concern: One out of four drivers now surfs the Internet on a smartphone while driving, a negligent practice that has almost doubled in the last 5 years.

The facts become even more troubling when we realize that almost 80 percent of people ages 40 to 49 now own smartphones, nearly matching the two other highest categories of smartphone ownership: 18-29 and 30-39. Overall, smartphone ownership has increased by 20 percent since 2011.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid a distracted driving-related auto accident is to turn off the smartphone while driving. People who cause accidents and injuries or fatalities can be held liable to civil and criminal charges of negligence if avoidable distractions were significant.

Connecticut accident victims may be able to receive compensation to help cover medical expenses and other accident related-damages if negligence is a proven factor.

Consultation with a personal injury attorney can help verify what sufficient compensation would be and whether other charges against the distracted driver are necessary.

Source: Asbury Park Press, “Smartphones create stupid driving habits,” Dan Radel, Nov. 19, 2013