Fatal auto accidents are on the rise across the country due to distracted drivers using cellphones. A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 17,775 traffic-related deaths during the first six months of 2016. This figure represents a 10.4% increase compared with the same time in 2015. The experts have established a direct connection between the increase in fatalities to distracted driving from cell phone use.

“Scrolling through song lists on a cellphone, or texting while driving is not just irresponsible, it can have tragic consequences,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release earlier this year.

Many young drivers mistakenly believe that if they are not texting, but rather choosing music, it is not considered distracted driving. This is simply incorrect. Any use of a cell phone that requires the driver to take his eyes off the road may lead to serious injury or, possible death.

I have witnessed personally, as well as professionally, as a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney, an increase in distracted driving. Routinely while driving, I see people drifting out of their lane and, at times, into oncoming traffic. Invariably, the driver has his head down looking at a cell phone. As a New Jersey personal injury lawyer, I have seen an increase in auto accidents caused by all phone use and at times significant injuries sustained by innocent victims all of which could have been avoided if the driver was simply paying attention and not utilizing a cell phone. There must be zero tolerance for cell phone use while driving (unless using a hands free device) or distracted driving leading to serious injury and death will become an epidemic.