Distracted driving is defined as doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. More than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 persons are injured in vehicle crashes each day across the United States that involve distracted drivers.
There are several recognized types of distraction:
- Visual – This involves an activity that takes your eyes off the road
- Manual – This involves taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – An activity that takes your mind off of driving
Distracted driving activities can include a wide variety of things such as talking on a cell phone, texting on a cell phone, smoking and eating while driving. Texting and driving is deemed one of the most dangerous distractions as it involves all three types of distraction and takes the attention away from the road for relatively long periods of time.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
According to statistics, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011 compared to 3,267 persons who were killed in 2010. An additional 387,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared to 416,000 people injured in 2010. A study by the Centers for Disease Control found that in 2011, 69 percent of drivers in the US ages 18 to 64 reported talking on their cell phone while driving within the last month. Another 31 percent of these same drivers reported reading or sending a text message or email while driving within the last month. The average text takes your eyes off of the road for five seconds. If you are traveling at 55 miles per hour that is enough time to cover the length of a football field. Should you really cover that much distance basically blindfolded?
Younger and less-experienced drivers seem to be at the greatest risk for falling victim to distracted driving. According to reports, the 20’s age group has the highest proportion of fatal distraction-related crashed. Even more shockingly, the CDC found that nearly half of all US high school students aged 16 years or older text or email while driving.
Parents can also fall victim to distracted driving. In fact, new mothers are three times more likely to get in a car accident with their baby than the general population. This is because parents are usually good multi-taskers. However, when it comes to driving, it is not possible to multi-task. Pay attention to the road to ensure you and your little ones arrive safely.
Distracted Driving and the Law
Many states have enacted laws aimed at preventing distracted driving. These laws include banning texting while driving. A 2010 issue from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban on commercial vehicle drivers that prohibits them from texting while driving. In 2009, President Obama even went so far as to issue an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or while operating government equipment.
Each state has its own laws governing cell phone use within a vehicle. For example, California has a ban on handheld devices for all drivers. Bus drivers are banned from using handheld or hands-free devices while working. Novice drivers are also banned from using both handheld and hands-free devices while driving. Finally, all drivers are banned from texting while driving.
The penalties for breaking these and similar laws vary. All of these fall under primary enforcement laws, meaning that a patrol officer may cite a driver for these infractions without any other violations involved. Breaking these laws results in a fine. Those who cause an accident due to their distracted driving can be held liable for the resulting damages just as if they had been drinking and driving or breaking another traffic law.
Victims of a distracted driving accident may legally seek to recover damages from the at-fault party. These damages can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages and property damage. If a person is killed in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, a wrongful death suit may be filed seeking compensation for damages including the victim’s medical expenses, burial and funeral costs and even loss of companionship.
Seeking the Help of a Lawyer Against a Distracted Driver
Distracted driving is a growing concern on American roadways. While many think of drunk driving as a main cause of personal injury cases, distracted driving is rising in rank. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the careless actions of a distracted driver, it is important to seek the legal advice of an experience personal injury lawyer. When fighting a personal injury case, your attorney may focus on the fault and negligence of the other driver. By driving while distracted, the other driver may have acted negligently and should compensate you for your damages. Seek the help of a personal injury attorney today to ensure you are fairly represented.