Driven to Distraction: Accidents and Legal Liabilities
Multi-tasking may be an important skill at work, in school, or at home, but when it comes to driving, it is considered as a dangerous distraction. Operating a motor vehicle requires a driver’s full attention in order to safely control the vehicle and be responsive to the conditions and hazards on the road.
However, many drivers continue to drive distracted – taking their eyes off the road, their hands off the steering wheel, or their mind off of their driving. When this happens, their visual, cognitive, and manual skills are impaired and the following distracted driving practices are the most common causes of car accidents:
- Cell phone use – texting or talking
- Putting on make-up
- Rubbernecking (Looking at an object or occurrence outside the vehicle)
- Reaching for an object inside the vehicle
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers who engage in the aforementioned practices are more likely to be involved in a crash or a near-crash. Statistics from a study conducted by the NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTII) further reveal that as much as 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes were because of driver distraction.
Serious Consequences of Distracted Driving
The latest statistics from the NHTSA show that in 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. and around 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.
So if you want to get to your destination safely, just focus on the road. Don’t be reduced to a mere statistic or be held responsible for an accident that you could have easily prevented if you just kept your mind on driving, your eyes on the road, and your hands on the steering wheel.
Legal Liability for Resulting Injuries
Bear in mind though that even if you aren’t a distracted driver, there is still a risk that you or a loved one can get hurt in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. Take note that even if the distracted driver has no prior criminal record or seems like an outstanding citizen, he or she can be held civilly liable for whatever injuries or damage you may have sustained in the accident.
Distracted Driving is Negligent Driving
Under the law, especially for distracted driving practices such as cell phone use that are strictly prohibited, they are considered as negligent if they were distracted right before the accident. Experts actually say that most distractions occurred within three seconds before the vehicle crash – so with the help of a car accident attorney, you can pursue a claim for damages against the distracted driver for having caused the crash. If you have an attorney to handle your case, he can pull up records, police reports, witness statements, or medical reports to establish evidence of the distracted driver’s negligence and liability.