Whether we realize it or not, most of us get distracted while we’re driving at least some of the time. Unfortunately, losing focus while driving is one of the top reasons auto accidents occur every year. To avoid expensive insurance claims, potential lawsuits, and other legal consequences, you need to avoid letting yourself get distracted while on the road.
Here are 18 tips from a car accident lawyer on what you need to know about distracted driving.
What You Need to Know
- Distracted driving is the leading cause of auto accidents each year, accounting for 80 percent of all accidents.
- Twenty-five percent of all auto accident fatalities are caused by distracted driving.
- In 2015, 391,000 auto accident injuries were caused by distracted driving accidents.
- It only takes three seconds after becoming distracted to get into an accident, even if you’re not the one “technically” at fault for the accident.
- There are three types of distracted driving: visual distraction, manual distraction, and cognitive distraction.
- Visual distraction happens when you take your eyes off the road ahead of you. You might look down to pick up your drink or look over at your passenger while talking.
- Manual distraction occurs when you take your hands off the wheel like when you pick up your phone or reach behind the seat for something.
- Cognitive distraction is what happens when you zone out and let your thoughts wander. If you’ve ever driven somewhere on autopilot and not remembered certain parts of the drive, you were cognitively distracted.
- Texting while driving combines all three forms of distracted driving.
- Other common forms of distracted driving include eating, drinking, talking to passengers, reading, grooming, talking on the phone, checking your navigation system, and anything that takes your hands, eyes, or attention off of driving.
- Cell phones are the biggest culprits of distracted driving. It’s estimated between 480,000 and 660,000 drivers use their cell phones while behind the wheel, during daylight hours.
- Texting while driving increases your risk of getting into an accident by 23 percent.
- Some drivers don’t simply text. They may also check their email or social media, including posting on social media, while driving.
- Reading or sending a text message can take your eyes off the road for about five seconds. If you’re driving 55 miles per hour, you’ll have traveled the length of a football field without looking at where you’re going.
- Most drivers recognize the dangers of distracted driving, but don’t take it seriously enough. Although 84 percent of drivers surveyed say distracted driving is bad, 36 percent of them also admitted to using their cell phones while driving.
- Using your cell phone while driving creates the same level of impairment as driving under the influence of alcohol.
- In 2011, Nevada banned the use of any handheld device while driving. If you’re caught, you can receive a citation and be fined $250. In 2017, nearly 12,000 drivers received citations.
- The handheld device ban covers holding your cell phone to talk, text, email, use social media, anything. Using your cell phone as a hands-free device is not banned, although you will still be a distracted driver while using it.
If You’re the Victim of Distracted Driving
Now that you know the dangers of distracted driving, it’s important to focus while you’re behind the wheel and let calls and messages wait until you can stop. But what if you’re the victim in an auto accident, and the other driver was distracted? What can you do?
File a claim with the insurance company. Follow all the normal procedures for this, including getting a police report and witness information.
Contact a personal injury attorney. If the insurance company is dragging their feet or looking for reasons to deny the claim, you need someone on your side. And if you suffer catastrophic injuries, you may be entitled to more compensation than the insurance company wants to pay.
Distracted driving harms people every day. Families lose loved ones in auto accidents when they don’t have to. When you’re driving, put your phone away and focus on what you’re doing. If you’ve been the victim of an accident and suspect distracted driving caused it, work with a personal injury lawyer who can help you. Contact Ed Bernstein and Associates today.