The alarming rise in car accidents in South Carolina and throughout the country has been blamed by some on the popularity of smartphones. However, safety experts say that the entertainment and information systems in many new cars can be just as distracting for drivers. A recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports suggests that a worrying number of motorists are unconcerned about these dangers. More than half of the drivers polled by the consumer information company admitted to regularly using their cellphones while behind the wheel to send text messages, watch videos and browse the internet.

Electronics manufacturers like Apple and wireless service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have developed features that allow smartphone owners to disable some of their devices’ most distracting features when they get behind the wheel. However, road safety advocates say that such features will have little impact on car accident rates until they become mandatory for drivers. Calls for lawmakers to address this issue are likely to grow louder as distracted driving accidents become more common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, crashes involving distracted motorists claimed 3,477 lives and injured 391,000 road users in 2015.

Many automobile navigation and entertainment systems are packed with features to attract car buyers, but programming or using them while vehicles are in motion can be extremely dangerous. Cars traveling at 55 mph cover a distance as long as a football field in just five seconds. Even changing a radio station while moving can greatly increase the chances of a crash.

Distracted drivers who cause fatal accidents may face vehicular manslaughter charges. However, this does not mean that those who suffered injury, loss or damage due to their reckless actions are unable to pursue civil remedies. In these situations, criminal defense attorneys may initiate litigation on behalf of accident victims or their dependent family members.