Negligence on the road comes in many forms, but one of the most common we see as personal injury lawyers is distracted driving. Distracted driving is not limited to just car accidents; we see distracted truck drivers causing truck accidents, and people who are using their phones while driving severely injuring or killing motorcyclists in motorcycle accidents
Almost everyone has been behind a distracted driver on the highway; watching them swerve in and out of their lane as they use their mobile phone. There are a number of signs that can indicate when a driver is distracted. They may be bouncing off of or going outside the lines of their lane. They have the tendency to speed up quickly, slam on their brakes suddenly, or generally fail to maintain a constant speed. And, of course, someone who has their eyes in their lap instead of on the road is certainly engaging in distracted driving.
These irresponsible individuals clearly do not understand the importance of keeping their eyes on the road. They can cause an accident in the blink of an eye and ruin another person’s, or an entire family’s, life forever. Our lawyers at Colombo Law have seen the devastation a distracted driver can cause. If you or a loved one have been hurt at the hands of a distracted driver, contact the distracted driving lawyers at Colombo Law to learn whether you may be entitled to compensation.
Types of Distracted Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” While texting is certainly one of the more common things a driver can be distracted by, there are actually classifications for three different kinds of distractions that can keep someone from driving safely.
Manual Distractions are those that require the driver to take their hands off the wheel, often to use them for another activity. Some examples of manual distracted driving include:
- Texting or making phone calls
- Eating or drinking
- Reaching for something on the floor, in the backseat, or in the glovebox
- Using the radio, CD player, or GPS
- Putting on makeup or engaging in similar grooming activities
- Adjusting lights or heat/air conditioning
Visual Distractions cause the driver to take their eyes off the road to focus on something else. While it is ok to take your eyes off the road for a moment to look in your mirror or check your blind spots before changing lanes, any longer puts you and those around you at great risk. Visual distracted driving can take the form of:
- Using a cell phone for any purpose (texting, calling, etc.)
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, or GPS
- Putting on makeup or engaging in similar grooming activities
- Watching TV, movies, or playing games on a cell phone or tablet
- Reading billboards or signs
Cognitive Distractions can be anything that takes your mind off the task at hand. In this case, that’s the very important task of driving. If you are stressed, upset, or angry, it is all too easy to let your mind wander and fail to give driving the attention it deserves. Examples of cognitive distracted driving may include:
- Making a phone calls or texting
- Allowing road rage to take over
- Racing other vehicles
- Hurrying or rushing such that you don’t pay attention to your surroundings
- Taking care of or disciplining children in the vehicle
- Talking to passengers
It is important to note that several of the examples listed above belong in multiple distraction categories. These are especially dangerous, involve a much higher risk of causing a distracted driving accident, and should be avoided whenever possible.
Distracted Driving Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (NHTSA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the United States Department of Transportation all keep detailed data on distracted driving accidents in the United States. The statistics on this dangerous activity are staggering:
- Cell phone use is a factor in over 60% of all car accidents. This amounts to around 1.6 million crashes caused by cell phones each year.
- In 2015, there were 391,000 injuries and 3,477 fatalities caused by distracted driving.
- That means 10 percent of all fatal accidents in the United States in 2015 were caused by distracted drivers
- On average, 9 people are killed and over 1,000 are injured every day because of distracted driving
- During the day, there are roughly 660,000 people using their cell phones and driving.
- Teneragers are the largest age group who are reported as being distracted prior to a fatal accident
- Teenagers who text and drive are outside of their lane 10 percent of the time
- 97 percent of teens say they think texting and driving is dangerous, but 43 percent admit they do it anyway
- 19 percent of all drivers, regardless of age, say they have browsed the internet while driving
Additional Distracted Driving Facts
The amount of distracted driving that goes on in the United States is truly alarming. Aside from the data-based statistics, there have been many studies that revealed some rather interesting facts about distracted driving:
- Drivers who take their eyes off the road to text do so for an average of 5 seconds. If travelling 55 mph, that means they cover the length of a football field every time they text without ever seeing the road.
- Driving while distracted means that you are, on average, 6 times more likely to be in an accident than you if you were drunk.
- Texting while driving increases those odds, and makes you 23 times more likely to cause an accident.
- When you text and drive you increase the amount of time your eyes are off the road by 400 percent.
Texting While Driving and Cell Phone Use Laws
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation in 2011 that urged all states to enact laws prohibiting cellphone use while driving. Although the NTSB cannot force any state to make a law, most of them, along with the District of Columbia, have some kind of legislation that prohibits or restricts the use of cellphones while driving.
While there is not currently any federal legislation of this kind, there are some federal laws that prohibit cell phone use for certain government workers. These include:
- An executive order issued by President Obama in 2009 that prohibits federal employees from texting while driving to conduct government business or while using government equipment.
- A restriction put in place by the Federal Railroad Administration banning the use of any electronic device while on the job.
- A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ban on commercial drivers texting while driving. This prohibits truck drivers from reading or entering any numbers or text in their phones while driving a tractor-trailer.
- A ban put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to prevent commercial drivers carrying hazardous materials from any and all hand-held cell phone use.
Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving
Sometimes you get hungry while you’re driving, sometimes you want to change the radio station, sometimes you need to answer a phone call; but are any of these things more important than your life or the life of another innocent person? The simple answer is: no.
If you get hungry while you’re driving, pull into a restaurant or gas station and take a few minutes to sit down and eat. If you want to adjust the radio, wait until you’re at a stoplight and not moving. If you need to answer that call or text, stop driving and pull into a safe area before you do it.
Avoiding distractions and cell phone use while driving is easy if you take a few simple steps:
- Put your phone away. That way you won’t be as tempted to use it while you drive.
- Call attention to it. If you’re a passenger riding with a distracted driver, call attention to the issue. Your life is not worth some else’s text message.
- Educate your friends and family. The FCC has plenty of resources you can use to make your loved ones more aware of the dangers of distracted driving.
- Set an example for your kids. If you’re a parent, don’t drive distracted in front of your kids. They’ll think it’s ok because you’re doing it and it will increase the chances they’ll engage in distracted driving when they’re old enough to operate a car.
- Know your state’s laws. Some states have harsh penalties for people who are caught driving while distracted. It’s not worth risking a fine or license suspension.
- Use a hands free device. These can help you change your music or answer a call without ever needing to touch your phone.
- Download a text blocking app. There are countless apps out there that can detect when you are driving and keep calls, texts, and notifications from getting to your phone until you stop.
Why Should I Hire a Distracted Driving Lawyer?
Distracted driving is a very clear case of negligence on the part of the at-fault driver. However, demonstrating that the at-fault driver was distracted, especially in cases involving use of a mobile phone, requires obtaining the proper proof. A skilled distracted driving lawyer should know how to preserve cell phone records (including text and data usage). They should also how to force the cell phone providers to produce the records in a format that can be used to make their case in court.
The distracted driving attorneys at Colombo Law have represented many clients who have been seriously injured or killed by distracted drivers and have the knowledge and experience needed to prove at-fault driver’s negligence.
If you’ve been hurt by distracted driver, or your loved one has been hurt or killed, you may be able to seek compensation. We will fight for your rights and won’t charge you an attorney fee unless we win or successfully settle your case. Call us at 888-860-1414 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and find out if you have a case.
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
US Dept of Transportation – Federal Railroad Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention