Distracted driving car accidents are becoming more and more common. A driver can be distracted by a variety of things, like electronics, passengers, and billboards. While these are things we don’t think of as distractions, looking at them for even a few seconds can cause car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and serious personal injuries.
Chances are you’ve either seen or been a distracted driver at some point in your life. It’s often easy to identify a distracted driver; they’re the ones swerving back and forth, drifting outside of their lane, slamming on their brakes without warning, or looking down into their lap as they text and drive.
What few people fail to realize is that it only takes a fraction of a second of inattention to cause an accident. Taking your eyes off the road for any length of time can result in you hurting yourself, your passengers, or an innocent bystander.
At Colombo Law, our personal injury lawyers have seen the devastating results of many Morgantown distracted driving car accidents. We know that being injured by a distracted driver is often sudden and unexpected. It’s an experience that can leave you wondering what to do next, which is why we’re here to help the victims of distracted driving accidents get the compensation they deserve.
Kinds of Distracted Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” In this day and age, texting is one of the most common ways to engage in distracted driving, but texting, and all other forms of distracted driving, often fall into one of three categories:
Manual Distractions require the driver’s hands, which means they often take them off the wheel. Examples include:
- Using a phone to make calls or text
- Drinking or eating
- Reaching for an item elsewhere in the vehicle
- Grooming, brushing your hair, or putting on makeup
- Using other electronic devices (radio, GPS, etc.)
- Adjusting the air conditioner, heater, or lights
Visual Distractions occur when the driver focuses on something else instead of looking at the road. While there are times when you will have to take your eyes off the road to look in your mirror or check your blind spot, doing so for longer than a second or two can seriously increase your chances of causing or getting into an accident. Examples of visual distractions include:
- Looking at a cell phone
- Looking at other electronic devices (radio, GPS, etc.)
- Putting on makeup or shaving
- Watching TV, movies, or playing games on a phone, tablet, or laptop
- Looking at billboards or other signs
Cognitive Distractions prevent a driver from mentally focusing on driving. If you are upset, have had a bad day, or are angry, it can be easy to think about those things instead of making sure you’re driving safely. Examples of cognitive distracted driving include:
- Calling or texting someone
- Engaging in road rage
- Racing other drivers
- Hurrying or rushing to get somewhere quickly
- Attending to children or other passengers
Some of the examples mentioned above, like texting or putting on makeup, belong to multiple categories. This is because these things are exceptionally dangerous and should never be done while operating a vehicle.
West Virginia Distracted Driving Statistics
Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (NHTSA) and the State of West Virginia publish a Highway Safety Plan that covers things like budgets and strategies designed to make our roads safer, as well as data from past years. The 2017 West Virginia Highway Safety Plan uses distracted driving data from 2015 that shows:
- There were 8,554 cell phone use citations and 3,254 cell phone use warnings issued in West Virginia that year
- Additionally, there were also 761 texting citations and 263 warnings
- A survey performed by the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration revealed that 40.18 percent of West Virginians surveyed admitted to talking on the phone while driving, and 32.46 percent admitted to texting
- The Division of Highways awarded the Governor’s Highway Safety Program 1.5 million dollars to cut down on distracted driving car accidents
The Facts About Distracted Driving
Most West Virginia drivers know it’s a bad idea to drive while distracted, but few realize how truly dangerous it is. If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these facts about distracted driving:
- On average, a distracted driver has their eyes off of the road for 5 seconds. That’s long enough to travel the length of a football field if traveling at 55 mph or faster.
- Distracted drivers are, on average, six times more likely to cause an accident than they would be if they were driving drunk.
- If you text and drive, you are 23 more times likely to cause an accident.
- If you text while you drive, the amount of time your eyes are off the road increases by 400 percent.
West Virginia Cell Phone Use and Texting Laws
- It is illegal in West Virginia for anyone to text while they drive.
- In regards to cell phone use, West Virginia drivers over the age of 18 may make calls while driving, but they must be using a handsfree device.
- Drivers under the age of 18 may not make calls while driving at all unless they need to contact 9-1-1.
Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving
No matter how hungry you are, no matter how much you hate that song on the radio, no matter how much you need to take that call, you simply cannot do so without being distracted and risking the safety of yourself or someone else.
Need to eat? Pull into a gas station or a restaurant for a few minutes. Want to change the radio? Wait until you’re at a red light. Have an important text to write or call to take? Pull into a safe area first!
You don’t need to do everything at the same time. When you’re driving a car, you are in control of a massive vehicle that can take lives in an instant. You have to be responsible and make safety your first, and only, priority when on the road. The following tips can help you make that goal a reality:
- Put your phone down so you won’t be tempted to use it.
- Call out other distracted drivers who you are riding with.
- Spread the word about distracted driving and how dangerous it use using resources from the FCC.
- Be a role model for your kids and others by not engaging in distracted driving.
- Stay up to date on West Virginia laws so you can always be compliant and safe.
- Invest in a hands-free device if you must talk on the phone while you drive.
- Install a text blocking app that will prevent you from receiving text and calls while inside a moving vehicle.
Why Should I Hire a Morgantown Distracted Driving Car Accident Lawyer?
When someone engages in distracted driving and causes an accident, that person is almost always negligent and at-fault for the crash. The tricky part of making sure you get the compensation you deserve is proving that the driver was indeed distracted. Obtaining this kind of proof isn’t easy for the average individual, but Morgantown distracted driving attorneys have access to the resources needed to find things like data usage and call/text records that can prove if someone was driving while distracted.
At Colombo Law, our Morgantown distracted driving car accident lawyers have helped plenty of people prove that their accident was caused by a distracted driver and fight for the compensation they need to cover the medical bills and expenses they’ve incurred.
If you or a loved one have been hurt by a distracted driver, don’t try to go through this process alone. We can help, and we’ll do it all without charging you any attorneys fees unless we win your case or reach a successful settlement. Contact us at 304-906-2815 to schedule your free consultation and find out if you have a case.