We rely on our cell phones and other electronic gadgets to help us communicate with each other, navigate to new locations, and even remember our daily schedules and tasks. While this technology undoubtedly provides assistance, it can also hinder us — or even put us in danger. Unfortunately, many motorists end up learning the hard way that checking their phones while driving can have disastrous consequences. In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at the distracted driving behaviors that lead to motor vehicle accidents, what you should do if you’re involved in this type of crash, and how personal injury lawyers can help.
What behaviors can lead to distracted driving?
Of course, using one’s cell phone to call, text, or use an app of any kind can lead to distracted driving. But that’s actually just one type of behavior that can put drivers in danger. Socializing with other passengers, eating and drinking, applying makeup or shaving, smoking, reading, fiddling with the radio or GPS, adjusting the air conditioning or heating, looking for an item in your vehicle, and virtually all other behaviors that require you to take your focus away from the task at hand (aka driving!) may fall under this category. If engaging in one or more of these behaviors is determined to be the cause of a crash, the person(s) involved may be held legally responsible for their negligence in operating a vehicle.
Is distracted driving really that big a deal?
Absolutely. In fact, it’s actually more dangerous than drunk driving. According to DMV.org, nine Americans die every day due to distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that there were more than 3,000 fatalities throughout 2013 due to distracted driving — which accounted for 10% of all deadly crashes in the United States. That means that something as simple as texting while behind the wheel could very well result in a collision that requires attention from a reputable car accident attorney.
As common as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be, distracted driving may be even more prevalent. A 2012 State Farm Insurance study found that 48% of drivers aged 18 to 29 accessed the internet on a cell phone while driving, while 43% checked their email and 36% scrolled through social media while behind the wheel. Since cell phone ownership has increased dramatically over the last six years, it’s safe to assume that even more people are engaging in these dangerous behaviors. Unfortunately, these actions have led to countless incidents that necessitate help from personal injury lawyers and can have the power to alter the course of the lives of many in a single instant.
What’s being done to prevent distracted driving?
Many states have passed laws to criminalize the act of distracted driving (and specifically texting while driving). These laws do vary depending on where you’re located, and there are sometimes exceptions to these rules (e.g., the operation of hands-free devices may be allowed, which doesn’t really cut down on cognitive distraction). In some areas, these rules may apply only to drivers who are under the age of 18. But while many motorists admit to engaging in these dangerous behaviors from time to time, it seems that the awareness campaigns that have been launched all across the country may be having some effect. From 2015 to 2016, the percentage of drivers who used handheld phones and other electronic devices decreased from 3.8% to 3.3%. However, those numbers are still too high. While the law does address some dangers, it’s largely up to individual motorists to refrain from engaging in these behaviors.
What should I do if I’m in a crash caused by distracted driving?
After you obtain medical treatment and contact the police, you should get in touch with experienced personal injury lawyers to assess your case and protect your rights. Your personal injury lawyers can work to determine who is at fault for the crash and seek damages on your behalf after an accident.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you need someone on your side. To find out more, please contact our personal injury lawyers today to schedule a consultation.