Distracted Driving and Personal Injury Lawsuits
We all Know Texting & Driving is Dangerous
We all know that driving distracted — namely, texting and driving — is dangerous. If it wasn’t common sense already, numerous high-profile ad campaigns and have made it difficult to avoid facing the facts. That’s not to mention the many tragic stories of young lives cut short due to texting at the wheel (or being struck by other distracted drivers).
It stands to reason that if everyone is aware of this problem, the number of distracted drivers must be decreasing steadily — right?
Wrong. Texting while driving statistics remain disturbingly high. According to a recent survey by State Farm, over half of all drivers who own smart phones admitted to using them while driving.
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Distracted Driving in the Age of Technology
In one sense, there have been distracted drivers as long as there have been cars. Having a conversation, eating, putting on makeup, and other activities were taking drivers’ attention away from the road long before smart phones entered the scene. But now, there are so many more possibilities for distraction.
No longer is the problem limited to taking cell phone calls or even sending texts. State Farm’s survey revealed that drivers do all kinds of things while behind the wheel — browsing the internet, taking photos and even recording video. The addictive nature of our constant connectivity makes it hard for drivers to postpone answering that text right away or put off the picture-taking until they’ve parked their vehicle. Survey respondents divulged that though they knew using their phones while driving was dangerous, they couldn’t resist the urge.
People likely don’t realize the extent of the danger posed by texting in the car. Studies show that in the brief time a driver takes his or her eyes off the road to read or send a text message, the car can travel over 100 yards. That’s plenty of distance in which a serious accident could occur.
Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving laws are growing more and more prevalent, and research indicates that where public awareness of the danger is failing to address the problem, passing laws is succeeding somewhat. Fourteen states across the US forbid handheld cell phone use, while 38 states (plus Washington, DC) forbid novice drivers from using their phones. Forty-six states as well as numerous territories have banned texting while driving.
State Farm’s survey did find that drivers were significantly less likely to use their phones behind the wheel if they were aware that it was illegal. Unfortunately, many drivers in states with distracted driving laws were unaware of them.
Personal Injury Lawsuits and Distracted Driving
Suing for personal injury in the case of a car accident can be tricky and complicated legal ground due to the difficult of proving negligence. However, in the case of texting and driving accidents, the situation is much more cut and dry. Distracted driving is considered a failure to uphold the driver’s duty to other drivers and pedestrians, and clear grounds for negligence.
The next time you receive a text, phone call or Snapchat while you’re on the road, consider the trifold risks: causing an accident, getting a hefty fine, and being held legally responsible for any damage you cause. That should be enough to make drivers think twice about distracting themselves.