According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,477 in 2015. But what all does distracted driving involve?
There are various penalties and fines (in some states) levied against drivers who are caught using a cell phone while driving a vehicle. Apart from the fines, you may also end up getting stuck in a lawsuit if you are involved in a car accident while talking on the phone.
The popularity of mobile devices has had severe and often deadly consequences. The statistics surrounding distracted driving are alarming.
According to the FCC, 8 people are killed and over 1,100 are injured every day in distracted driving accidents in the U.S. The additional statistics are sobering.
What is Distracted Driving?
When a person’s attention is diverted from the task of driving, this is called distracted driving. This includes activities such as:
- Talking on the phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers in the car
- Fiddling with the stereo or navigation system
Of these, texting while driving is the most startling distraction. If a person looks down to either read or send a text, they take their eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. If that person is traveling at 55 mph, those 5 seconds are the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field with their eyes closed. While you may have heard that analogy before, the fact is a person cannot drive safely while texting. No matter how good of a driver a person may think he or she is, it is a dangerous and potentially deadly risk to take. No text is worth such a risk.
Texting – Not Just a Problem for Teens
While studies show that teenagers are more likely to text than other drivers on the road, the population of cell phone users is growing older. Statistics show that 11% of drivers in the age group of 18-20 who caused an auto accident admitted to texting while driving. However, a survey by Pew Research Center shows that 73% of all cell phone owners text. 10% of people in the age group of 55-64 years text and this number is rapidly growing.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
There are various factors which contribute to accidents while using a cell phone. Drivers are distracted when reaching for a cell phone, dialing a number, and texting and driving; driving with one hand while using a cell phone adds to the hazard. The distraction caused by cell phone usage makes a driver unaware of the surroundings and he or she may fail to take evasive measures when a situation develops. Emotionally charged conversations of the driver or even other passengers cause immense distraction and may make the driver careless.
Distracted Driving and Negligence
After a car accident, a victim may make a claim for compensation from the at-fault driver and this can lead to a lawsuit if the negotiations for settlement fail. In a lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant was at fault and was liable for causing the accident. There are many recent cases where the plaintiff has argued that the accident happened due to the negligence of the defendant since the defendant was using a cell phone immediately prior to or during the accident. In many cases, the liability claim has been shared as the plaintiff was also found to be using a cell phone while driving during the accident.
Distracted Driving and Employees
If an employee is driving a car and answering his or her cell phone for a work-related call, the employer may be held liable if the employee gets involved in an accident. If a person gets injured in such an accident, he or she is likely to file a lawsuit against the employer as the chances of receiving higher compensation are higher since the employer will have the so-called ‘deeper pockets’. Many employers are advising their employees to refrain from using a cell phone while driving. Pull off the road if you have must take that urgent phone call.
Distracted Driving and Teenage Drivers
There are accidents involving teenage drivers wherein plaintiffs have argued that the parents of teenage drivers using cell phones should be held liable for the accident. The argument in favor is that the parents are responsible for providing the teenager with a cell phone and that is a factor which caused the accident. This issue is still being debated and lawmakers are undecided so far. It is important for parents to counsel their children on cell phone usage and restrict the use of a cell phone when driving.
St. Louis Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
To pursue a claim against a distracted driver, contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney from The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We work to protect your legal rights.