The proliferation of cell phone use in our culture has many upsides. People are able to do more at any time they want; they can entertain themselves when they have some downtime by playing a game; or they can stay in touch with friends or family who live hundreds of miles away. Cell phones are an amazing technological advancement when you think about it -- and they are only becoming more robust and interactive.

However, there are clear downsides to cell phone use. In a certain sense, there is an abstract "loss of humanity" that comes with cell phone use (just look around the next time you are at a restaurant, and see how many people are looking at their phones instead of the people they are with); and then there is the all-too-real "loss of humanity" that can be caused by cell phones -- car accidents that involve a negligent driver who was texting behind the wheel.

Louisiana residents are familiar with the sight: a car is swerving in its lane in front of them, and when they pass it, they see a driver fumbling with a cell phone. Such a negligent act greatly increases the chance of a car crash (and makes the driver liable for the wreck) -- and according to an insurance agency, texting while driving is the second-most common reason for a fatal car accident involving a distracted driver.

The report shows that 62 percent of fatal distracted driving accidents are due to a driver "lost in thought." Significantly behind that (but also significantly ahead of other reasons) is using a cell phone while driving, which accounted for 12 percent of fatal distracted driving accidents.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Insurer Analyzes Top 10 Driving Distractions Involved in Fatal Car Crashes," April 4, 2013