Dealing with the aftermath of a distracted driving accident is frustrating to say the least. You may be confident the driver was not paying attention, but that can be hard to prove. By working with a distracted driving lawyer, you have a better chance of proving the other driver?s negligence and winning a settlement or court award. If the distraction was by use of cellphone, it is imperative to seek assistance immediately to preserve the evidence.
If you believe the driver who caused your accident and injuries was distracted, call Lugar Injury Law today to speak with a distracted driving accident attorney. We thoroughly investigate every case. We leave no stone unturned in searching for evidence of the other driver?s fault. This effort and approach enables us to build the strongest case possible and demand the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 deaths in 2017 were caused by distracted driving. The same year, 9% of all fatal crashes were reported to involve distraction. In 2018, there were 24,350 distracted-driver involved crashes. These accidents led to 126 fatalities and 13,733 injured individuals.
The Virginia Highway Safety Office also reported the top distractions were drivers not having their eyes on the road, looking at a roadside incident, and cellphone use or texting. Of the distraction-related fatal crashes, 401 involved cell phone use (14%). Drivers were talking on, listening to, or otherwise engaged in some activity with their cell phone at the time of the crash. Ultimately, cell phone use resulted in 434 fatalities nationwide.
You may think the drivers most likely to be distracted would be teens, but that is not necessarily true. The age group that was most distracted in 2017 was 20 to 29 years old, the NHTSA reported. They accounted for 27% of all distracted drivers. The next most distracted group was 29 to 30 years old, which accounted for 19% of all distracted drivers. The next most distracted cohorts were 40 to 49 years old (14%), 50 to 59 years old (12%), and 70+ drivers (10%).
What Is Distracted Driving?
Virginia law recognizes that a distracted driver is when a motorist performs any other activity that takes their attention away from driving carefully and safely. This seems straightforward enough, but distracted driving is a bit more complicated than you might think. That is because a driver can be distracted in more than one way.
- Distraction can be visual. The driver may take their eyes off the road at an inappropriate time or for an inappropriate duration. For example, a driver may be looking down at their phone.
- Distraction can be manual. A driver may have their eyes on the road but not have their hands on the wheel. A driver may take their hand or both hands off the wheel to eat or hold and drink their coffee.
- Distraction can be cognitive. Even if the driver has their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, they may not be focused on driving safely. Drivers who are on autopilot, are too sleepy to concentrate, or have their mind on other things are not fully paying attention to what they are doing.
Types of Distracted Driving
Some of the most common driving distractions include:
- Texting and Driving: Drivers too often read or type out messages on their phones while driving. This becomes a manual, visual, and cognitive distraction.
- Talking on the Phone: Holding a phone to talk while driving is a manual and cognitive distraction. Drivers may think hands-free talking is better, but this also can become a serious cognitive distraction. Drivers should keep all calls to a minimum.
- Grooming: Drivers should not try to do their hair, apply makeup, shave, or otherwise get ready while driving. This often leads to looking at themselves in the mirror, holding other objects, and taking their mind off driving.
- Eating and Drinking: Drivers rarely think about picking up a coffee while they drive or grab food at the drive-thru. Eating and drinking are common and dangerous manual and visual distractions.
- Reading: Whether the driver is reading a text, email, or newspaper, their mind and eyes are off the road.
- Reaching for an Object: Drivers often reach onto the other seat, to the floor, or to the glove compartment while driving. This causes the driver to take a hand off the wheel and their eyes off the road. They also become more engaged with their task than driving.
- Engaging with Passengers: Most drivers are comfortable talking with their passengers while operating a vehicle. Parents are all too familiar with dealing with children in the back seat. Drivers need to be particularly careful not to become so engaged that they take their eyes off the road and their mind off the task at hand.
- Looking at Something Outside of the Car: Far too many drivers cause accidents by ?rubbernecking? and paying more attention to something on the side of the road than what is in front of them.
After one of these forms of distraction causes you harm, talk with a distracted driving accident attorney at Lugar Injury Law about your right to compensation. You may be entitled to pursue a settlement to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Virginia Distracted Driving Laws
Virginia has implemented several laws to attempt to reduced distractions while driving.
The most obvious law is Virginia?s prohibition on texting and driving. In Virginia, texting while driving is a primary offense, which means the police can pull you over for it. A first-time offense is a $125 fine and a second or subsequent offense is a $250 fine. There is a new law that even disallows one from holding a phone in a construction zone ? no ifs ands and buts about it.
Teen drivers also have several regulations meant to reduce or eliminate distractions. For example, drivers under 18 years old can only have one passenger under 21 years old, unless they have a parent or guardian in the front passenger seat. Adolescents with learner?s permits cannot carry more than one passenger under 18 years old (except for family members).
Drivers under 18 years old are not allowed to use a cell phone for any reason while driving, even if it is hands-free.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is dangerous: It increases the risk of an accident.
When a motorist is distracted by something, they may:
- Fail to see a potential hazard: A distracted driver might not see the car ahead of them slam on their breaks or may not notice a deer on the side of the road.
- Fail to react in time to avoid a crash: When a driver is paying attention, they can notice possible hazards and take steps to avoid a collision. A driver who is not paying attention may not notice a hazard at all before they crash. Or, the driver may notice the hazard late, by which time they cannot avoid a collision. For example, if a driver is looking down at their phone, by the time they look up and see the vehicle in front of them slowing down, slamming on their brakes may not be enough to avoid a rear-end accident.
- Fail to mitigate the severity of a collision: Even if an attentive driver cannot avoid a crash entirely, by breaking early or swerving, they may be able to limit the property damage or injuries. A distracted driver has to act fast and rarely has time to make a smart decision to avoid a collision or reduce the harm caused.
- Over-correct: A driver who suddenly notices a danger that is about to cause an accident may try to whip the wheel in one direction or slam on the brakes as hard as they can. This over-correction could make matters worse, particularly on wet pavement. A driver who quickly stops and turns the wheel may flip their car or spin into other traffic.
When you become the victim of another person?s inattention and carelessness, contact a distracted driving accident attorney to help you hold that person responsible. We will work hard to establish that driver?s negligence and obtain you an insurance settlement or court award.
We Handle Distracted Driving Accidents
When a distracted driver causes you harm, contact Lugar Injury Law for skilled representation. You should not have to bear the burden of a distracted driving accident someone else caused. You should not have to pay for medical bills and suffer the pain without recompense. By working with Lugar Injury Law, you have a strong chance of obtaining a settlement or court award for the maximum value of your claim.