US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called distracted driving an epidemic, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been working to educate drivers. According to the NHTSA’s research, in 2010, 3,092 people died in auto crashes involving distracted drivers; approximately 416,000 more were injured. As an auto accident attorney, I have seen first-hand the damage to individuals and families who have been impacted by these crashes.
Distracted driving includes any action or activity that takes your attention away from driving. It may include:
- Texting while driving (this is currently illegal in both North Carolina and Tennessee)
- Eating or drinking
- Programming a GPS device, MP3 player or radio
- Reading the newspaper, a map or printed directions
- Personal grooming
- Being distracted by passengers (this includes kids in the backseat)
According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon, using a cell phone while driving decreases the focus on driving by 37%. And texting while driving takes the drivers attention from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds—long enough to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded.
If you would like to find resources on distracted driving, including the laws for each state, a family distracted driving pledge form, a parent-teen driving agreement, and videos telling stories of those impacted by distracted drivers, head over to www.distraction.gov.
For those who currently drive while distracted, consider the consequences of causing a car crash, including injury to yourself, your passengers, passengers in other vehicles, or even pedestrians; increases in your insurance rates; potentially one or more traffic citations; potential loss of your driver license; and if you are at-fault and cause the death of another party, you could potentially face criminal charges. On top of this, the other party might choose to pursue legal action against you through civil litigation.
And for those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to another’s negligence, we understand that your life has been changed forever. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to recover economic or other damages to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
We hope you consider the risks associated with distracted driving each time you pick up your car keys. Drive safely.