Life is busy, and it can be tempting to try to multitask while driving. However, most drivers vastly overestimate their ability to drive safely while doing other tasks, whether it is using a cell phone, putting on makeup, or eating dinner. Sending or reading a short text takes a driver’s attention away from the road for about 5 seconds; at 55 miles per hour, this is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. It is thus no surprise that crashes often happen when a driver is texting or otherwise distracted.
If you have been injured because a distracted driver caused an accident, you have legal options to help you as you heal. An experienced car accident attorney can help you get the financial recovery you deserve.
Distracted Driving—The Figures You Need to Know
Distracted drivers took the lives of over 3,100 people in the United States in 2020 and caused injuries to 424,0000 others in crashes. This is more than 1,100 crashes per day in which it could be proven that the driver was distracted. Some other startling statistics include:
- About one in five individuals killed in a crash involving a distracted driver was not in a motor vehicle; instead, they were riding a bike, walking, or outside the car.
- Distracted driving is responsible for more than 58 percent of teen crashes.
- Distracted driving occurs in more than 36 percent of all trips in the United States.
- Texting on the phone can increase the risk of a crash or a near-crash by 23 times.
- A study by AAA found that over 84% of drivers recognize the danger of using a cell phone while driving and find it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send an email while driving. However, 36% of those same drivers admit to having read or sent a text message or email while driving in the previous month.
Different Types of Distracted Driving
Any non-driving activity can become a potential distraction that increases the driver’s risk of crashing. However, distracted driving breaks down into four main types. Some distractions fall within more than one category.
Visual distractions include anything that causes the driver to look away from the road. Manual distractions cause a driver to remove their hands from the wheel. Auditory distractions result when a sound causes the driver’s attention to shift from the road. And cognitive distractions happen when a driver’s mind wanders away from the act of driving, such as when motorists are too tired to drive or preoccupied with thinking about things outside of driving.
Most Common Types of Distractions While Driving
There are many types of distractions that can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Some of the most common types of distractions that are known for increasing the risk of a crash include the following:
1. Texting and Driving
Talking or texting on the phone is one of the most common types of distracted driving behaviors and is known to increase the likelihood of debilitating motor vehicle accidents.
According to a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), texting on a cell phone increases the risk of an accident or a near-crash by 23 times. Another study showed that talking on the phone while driving causes impairment that is similar to driving intoxicated.
2. Getting Lost in Thought
Getting lost in one’s thoughts is one of the most significant causes of distracted driving collisions. When a motorist’s mind begins to wander while driving, they are often unable to react quickly enough to dangers on the road or other issues they should avoid.
This type of distracted driving often happens during a driver’s daily commute. When drivers travel the same route every day, they get comfortable and pay less attention, allowing their minds to drift off to other concerns. This also happens more frequently when driving long distances without a break and driving while experiencing fatigue or sleepiness.
Daydreaming while driving is often more dangerous than using a cellphone while driving. In fact, according to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the most significant cause of distracted driving was a motorist’s mind wandering long enough to result in a collision. This data indicated that drivers thinking about something other than driving caused over 61 percent of motor vehicle fatalities.
3. Outside Events
Rubbernecking is a term used to refer to a motorist turning their head while driving to look at a passing accident or roadside event. However, this behavior can result in tragic and life-changing crashes.
Moreover, motorists tend to drive close together as they slow down to observe an event or accident. As a result, when a driver turns their head and the motorist in front of them slows down or stops, the rubbernecking driver may not have enough time to prevent a collision.
4. Talking With Other Occupants
Motorists who interact with passengers, animals, or children while driving put themselves and others on the road at risk of a devastating accident, especially if they turn around to talk or take their hands off the wheel to deal with kids fighting in the back seat.
5. Trying to Reach Things in the Motor Vehicle
When distracted motorists reach for something in their bag or that fell on the floor, they can lose control of their vehicles. Research shows that a motorist is eight times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash when reaching for an object while driving.
6. Doing Personal Grooming
While most drivers know they should not take part in personal grooming while operating their vehicle, it is not unusual to see motorists brushing their hair, applying makeup, or even changing their clothes while driving. However, these distractions can end up causing the motorist to lose control of their car and result in a massive wreck.
7. Eating and Drinking
According to an NHTSA study, motorists who eat and drive increase their odds of an accident by approximately 80 percent. Distracted drivers consuming food and drinks caused 65 percent of near-miss accidents.
The study even described some of the most dangerous foods and beverages drivers could have in the car while driving. This list includes coffee, hot soups, tacos, hamburgers, donuts, soft drinks, and chocolate.
8. Adjusting Controls
Adjusting the air conditioning, changing the radio station, and playing around with the GPS while operating a vehicle can take a motorist’s attention away from the road long enough to cause a debilitating motor vehicle accident.
Other Common Distractions
While the above list indicates the more common causes of distracted driving accidents, there are many other reasons a driver may be distracted and cause a devastating accident. If you suffered harm in a distracted driving accident due to the wrongful actions of another person or motorist, make sure you reach out to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can determine whether you have a viable case and your legal options. They can also assist you as you go after maximum financial recovery.
Things You Can Do to Help Your Case Following a Distracted Driving Accident
Although taking action after a distracted driving accident may be the last thing on your mind, the things you do after a collision can protect your health, safety, and legal rights. If you are in a distracted driving collision, you should consider taking the following steps:
Reach out to Law Enforcement
Following a distracted driving crash, you should call 911 immediately. If you saw that the other driver was distracted before they hit you, tell the police when they arrive. They will conduct an investigation and document their findings in their police report. They may be able to obtain evidence such as phone records that prove the at-fault driver was distracted. If you decide to pursue legal action after this crash, the police report and any evidence they preserve can provide your attorney with valuable details that can help them prove what happened and who was at fault.
Gather Evidence From the Crash
If possible, gather as much evidence from the crash scene as you can.
Talk to Others at the Scene
If any witnesses saw the accident, talk to them and get their contact information. If you think the at-fault driver was distracted, ask the witnesses if they saw what the driver was doing just before the crash. These individuals may be able to provide your attorney with testimony that can help your lawyer prepare the strongest case on your behalf.
Talk to an Attorney as Soon as Possible
Evidence that a driver was texting or otherwise using their phone before a crash can be easily lost or deleted from the phone, and cell phone carriers do not keep this information for very long, if at all. Accordingly, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a crash if you think the at-fault driver was distracted by their cell phone when they caused the collision. An experienced attorney can take steps to preserve this evidence that will be critical to showing that the other driver was distracted and thus at fault.
Work With an Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer and Fight for the Justice and Damages You Deserve
If you were injured in a distracted driving accident, your focus should be on your recovery, not on trying to prove your claim and secure the compensation you deserve. Thankfully, when you hire an experienced car accident attorney to take on your case, you will not have to worry about handling this complex legal ordeal alone.
Instead, when the legal team at Gruel Mills is on your side, they will:
- Review the facts of your distracted driving collision, figure out if you can pursue legal action, and determine the legal options you have.
- Ensure you get the legal support you need to get through this challenging time and offer you answers and clarification regarding your rights.
- Analyze the accident and gather the evidence necessary to show what happened, who was at fault, and the extent of your injuries.
- Determine which parties were responsible for the accident, and make sure to hold them all responsible for the harm and losses you suffered.
- Prepare and file your legal motions and paperwork with the court before the statute of limitation (your deadline to commence an action) expires.
- Handle all the settlement negotiations with the insurance company and fight for a just offer.
- Head to trial to fight for maximum financial damages if the insurer will not negotiate fairly with you.
If distracted driving has upended your life or a loved one’s life, do not deal with this demanding situation on your own. Instead, contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Gruel Mills as soon as possible for your free case consultation and find out how an attorney can help you get your life back on track.