What is Distracted Driving?
How many times has this happened to you: your smartphone text alert sounds and you reach for your phone, perhaps in your purse or center console? How many drive-through trips complete with eating on the way home do you take in a week? If you’re like the average American, chances are you do these things quite often.
Although it’s a phrase most associated with cell phone use, anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road in front of them can be considered distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), distracted driving is responsible for the motor vehicle accidents and deaths of 8 people and 1,161 injuries on a daily basis.
In other words, every day in the U.S. a distracted driver is responsible for 1 in 5 auto accidents.
Putting on makeup, talking to a passenger, eating, even using the navigation system are distracted driving habits that can cause an accident. Many organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation and End Distracted Driving, are making valiant efforts to educate the public and hopefully decrease the number of distracted driving events across the nation.
Distracted driving is essentially carelessness on the part of the driver. Those whose lives have been negatively impacted by accidents caused by distracted drivers know something that seems as simple as answering a phone call can result in emotional, physical, and financial pain.
If you’ve been in an accident with a distracted driver, it is absolutely within your legal rights to pursue compensation for your pain and suffering. An accident attorney can help you understand your legal options.
Why Distracted Driving Is Dangerous
Multitasking may be the key to running an efficient office, or well-organized home life. However, when it comes to driving a car, multitasking can have fatal results.
Safely operating a vehicle requires an intense level of awareness. Our focus must be on the road in front and around us, including weather conditions, local landmarks, and other cars in the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of daily driving can make us a little lazy and complacent. As a result, we may become easily distracted.
Many studies show our brains can’t manage secondary tasks while driving a car. Secondary tasks are all those habits that contribute to distracted driving.
A study conducted by AAA found that as mental workload and distractions increase, reaction times slow and drivers scan the road less frequently. This causes them to miss visual cues, such as a red lights, stop signs or a car abruptly braking in front of them – ultimately, ending in a crash.
Texting is an especially serious offense because it requires us to be engaged on many levels. When responding to texts, we must think of our response, then type in it with our eyes focused on the smartphone screen rather than the road. On average, your eyes are away from the road for at least 5 seconds. That’s long enough to crash into another car, or hit a pedestrian or cyclist.
Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving
In 2015, AT&T conducted a survey on smartphone use behind the wheel. This study revealed drivers not only text behind the wheel, they send emails, search the web, and use social media apps. 38% of respondents engaged in at least one social media app behind the wheel.
The main factors that contribute to cell phone use behind the wheel are:
Habit – Many respondents admit to being addicted to social media and therefore, unable to stop themselves from using a smartphone while driving.
Fear of missing something important – This one can seem a little like an oxymoron, since you’re more likely to miss something important in the road ahead, rather than on your phone while driving.
Believing you can safely do both things at once – Our misconceptions about the ability to multitask when driving leads to a higher risk for distracted driving accidents.
The best way to avoid distracted driving habits is by committing to positive driving behaviors. Store your cell phone away from plain sight, perhaps in your bag or glove box. Put the ringer on silent before you do, so you won’t be tempted when your notifications sound.
When traveling to a new destination, look up the directions before you start your engine. This way you’re familiar with your route, and not completely dependent on the drone of the robot navigator.
Try to minimize switching radios stations and save up your serious conversations for the dinner table as opposed to the driver’s seat.
If you have teenage drivers at home, you can encourage them to follow your good example by pledging to end distracted driving habits together.
What to Do if You’re Hit by a Distracted Driver
Should you have the misfortune of a car accident with a distracted driver, the first thing is to remember to stay calm. It can be very easy to feel angry and explode verbally when someone else’s poor choices result in harm to ourselves or our loved ones.
If anyone is injured, seek medical attention immediately. When the police arrive on the scene, do your best to cooperate with them. Tell them, and only them, the details of the accident you immediately recall. Remember to exchange names, contact info, insurance policy details and write down the make and model of the cars involved.
Now would be a good time to use your smartphone to record photos of any property damage, bodily injuries and also the scene of the accident itself.
Of course, you may not be in the position to document all the necessary information to help build your injury claim. It’s easy to overlook a vital detail when you’re not feeling your best. Your attorney will conduct an investigation into the accident for you, collecting police reports, witness testimony, and your medical records while you heal.
When you are injured by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation beyond what an insurance company will pay out. On the whole, individual policies have strict monetary limits, and adjusters often attempt to reduce even this amount to save their company money.
The settlement amount they offer may not be nearly enough to cover the total cost of your injuries. This is why an experienced personal injury attorney is your best asset after a car accident. They can help guide you through the process, ensure you receive proper medical care for your injuries and recover compensation for lost wages as well as pain and suffering.
Contact a Birmingham Car Accident Attorney
At Pittman Dutton and Hellums, we are passionate about helping the people of Alabama defend their legal rights. Whether it’s personal injury, mass torts, or product liability, we are committed to providing the highest level of representation for our clients.
To help Alabama residents understand their legal options after a traumatic experience, such as a car accident, we provide 100% free case evaluations at no obligation to you. We offer our services on a contingency basis, meaning if we can’t recover damages for you, you pay us nothing.
Alabama law limits the time you have to file a personal injury claim, so please reach out to us today. You can call us at (866) 515-8880 or use the form on this page.