Approximately 2.35 million Americans are injured in automobile accidents every year, and over 37,000 are killed. There are varying estimates on what percentage of accidents are caused by distracted driving.
If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, contact the Cary texting and driving accident lawyers at The Doyle Law Offices today.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 17% of injury accidents are caused by driver distraction. That includes all kinds of distractions, not just cell phone use and texting.
The National Safety Council, on the other hand, estimates that 28% of all injury crashes are caused by cell phones and texting alone.
A third study from the American Automobile Association (AAA) seems to indicate that the percentages are actually significantly higher. Cameras that monitored driver activity were installed in thousands of cars, and the in-vehicle footage of approximately 1,700 car crashes was analyzed.
The research concentrated on the six seconds of video leading up to each crash. In this study, driver distraction was involved in a whopping 58% of all crashes. Distraction was a factor in 76% of all rear-end crashes, and 89% of road departure crashes.
Whatever the actual percentages are, driver distraction is a serious threat to public safety. If you were injured in an automobile accident in which the driver at fault was distracted, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the Cary personal injury lawyers at The Doyle Law Offices, PA today for a free case evaluation.
Distracted driving could be defined as anything that reduces a driver’s mental or physical capacity to safely perform the task of driving a motor vehicle. From a clinical point of view, there are three basic categories of distraction:
Examples of distractions include talking to other occupants, reading, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, shaving, combing hair, listening to loud music, interacting with GPS navigation, talking on a cell phone, watching a video, and last but certainly not least texting.
Texting is probably the most dangerous type of distraction because it involves all three aforementioned categories of distraction.
The average text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that equates to driving blind for 130 yards.
Texting while driving is especially prevalent among young drivers. Recent data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System showed that more than 40% of high school drivers had sent a text or email while driving in any 30 day period.
It is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving while intoxicated, and it is responsible for 11 teen deaths every day. The vast majority of teen drivers state that they are aware of how dangerous texting and driving is, but the epidemic is still widespread.
Perhaps if the penalties were anywhere near as severe as a DWI, the occurrence of this dangerous activity could be reduced. Too often, it takes a catastrophic event for people to change their behavior.
Currently 46 states have a ban on text messaging for all drivers, and North Carolina is one of them. There is no ban on hand held cell phone usage in NC, except for school bus drivers and drivers under the age of 18 with a provisional license. Neither are allowed to use a cell phone at all, hands free or otherwise.
Texting while driving is enforced as a primary offense, which means a police officer can pull you over and cite you for that alone. In some other states, it is enforced as a secondary offense, meaning you have to be doing something else illegal first (like speeding) in order to be pulled over.
When an injury accident occurs, law enforcement has the authority to procure cell phone records from the time of the accident. If it is determined that the at fault driver was using a cell phone at the time of the accident, that information could be used to prove negligence in a subsequent lawsuit.
Video footage and eyewitness accounts will also be taken into account if available. Negligence does not necessarily have to coincide with an illegal activity. For instance, it is not illegal to reach for a French fry on the floor of your car. It is, however, negligent to crash into someone while taking your eyes off the road and reaching for said French fry.
Cell phone usage by the injured driver can also play a part in a personal injury lawsuit. If it can be proven that the injured party was using a cell phone at the time of the accident, that could be considered as evidence of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff could prevent them from receiving all or part of their potential compensation.
Personal injury lawsuits can also potentially be filed against the driver’s employer. These days, many sales people and other types of traveling employees are expected to be available by phone at all times.
Employers profit from their employees use of cell phones on the road. They are responsible for establishing the rules on how cell phones are used outside the office, and they can potentially be held liable for punitive damages if it can be demonstrated that the company was responsible for the negligent behavior that caused the accident.
With today’s proliferation of mobile devices and our desire to be connected at all times, the allure of looking at our cell phones while driving will continue to be a public safety hazard. Too often, the consequences of driving while distracted can be catastrophic and even fatal.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. We represent clients in Cary, Raleigh, Apex, Holly Springs, and the greater Wake County area.