Distracted driving has become a key factor in car accidents around the U.S. While cell phones are a major culprit, drivers are distracted by much more than texting. They are eating, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, doing their hair all while steering a car going more than 35 mph through traffic. If people are on the highway, they risk taking their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel at a speed of more than 65 mph – a speed that can total vehicles and cause deadly collisions.
In 2014, 431,000 people were involved in auto accidents with at least one distracted driver and 3,179 people were killed in these crashes. Distraction accounted for 10 percent of all traffic fatalities. At the beginning of 2015, the number of distracted driving collisions and fatalities were trending upward, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This demonstrates the continued need for education regarding distracted driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Many people have fallen prey to the belief that they can multitask. Whether it is at home, at the park with the kids, in a meeting at work, or on the road, people believe their minds are capable of handling more than one complex task at once. The truth is, we cannot – not successfully at least.
People have developed the ability to do two actions at once, but they have not gained the capability to fully pay attention to both tasks. They must divide their attention – a little on driving and a little on texting, or eating, or reading. The problem arises because driving is a serious task that demands our full attention. To safely maneuver a car through traffic at an appropriate speed and without hitting any other objects, people need two hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road and environment ahead, and their mind dedicated to these actions.
There are three types of distraction: cognitive, manual, and visual. Distracted driving is why a driver does not give 100 percent of his or her attention to the task at hand, which means when people multitask while driving, they are distracted in at least one way. They are participating in an activity that takes their minds of driving (cognitive), takes their hands off the wheel (manual), or takes their eyes of the road and environment ahead of them (visual).
Common Causes of Distracted Driving
Cell phone use is a prime example of distracted driving because people often drive one-handed while using the other hand to dial or text. They are also constantly glancing away from the road to look at their phones. And of course, they are more concerned with their conversation with another person than driving. However, it can be something as simple as singing and moving to a song on the radio that can divert a person’s attention enough from diving to cause an accident.
Other common causes of distraction-related accidents:
- Eating food;
- Drinking coffee or other beverages;
- Reading a book, newspaper, or e-reader;
- Rubbernecking to look at an accident or something else on the side of the road;
- Searching or reaching for another item in the car;
- Putting on makeup;
- Doing your hair; and
- Day dreaming or becoming lost in your thoughts.
Teenagers and Distracted Driving
For teenagers, conversations with multiple passengers is the main culprit in distracted driving, even ahead of cellphone use. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distraction was a factor in nearly 60 percent of all moderate to severe teen crashes. This is almost four times higher than previous estimates.
Based on video footage in 1,700 teens’ cars, the researchers analyzed the six seconds just prior to a collision. 15 percent of crashes occurred because of drivers being distracted by interacting with passengers. Cell phone use came in second at 12 percent. Looking at something in the vehicle caused 10 percent of crashes while looking at something outside of the car led to nine percent of collisions. Singing, grooming, and reaching for an object were the final three major distractions.
To lower the risk of teen crashes, Georgia has a graduated licensing system. After a learner’s permit, adolescents receive a Class D license. Under this license, they have to abide by a curfew, which means they cannot drive between midnight and 5:00 a.m. During the first six months, only immediate family members can be in the car when the adolescent drivers. In the next six months, only one passenger under 21 years old who is not immediate family can ride in the car. After the first year, the adolescent driver can have up to three passengers under the age of 21 who are not family in the car.
Georgia law also prohibits all texting while driving and all cell phone use for teen drivers.
Your Rights After an Accident
If you were in an accident with a distracted driver, whether that driver was 17 or 71 years old, you have the right to hold them responsible for the property damage and injuries they caused. While most people work with auto insurers following an accident, there are a number of reasons why insurance settlements do not work out. The other driver might be uninsured, the insurer might believe their client was not at fault, or the claim might be denied because it is for an amount greater than the policy limit.
When insurance will not cover your damages, you have to turn to the law. You can bring a personal injury claim against the distracted driver. You will have to prove their negligent or reckless behavior led to the collision that caused your injuries.
Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
Dealing with insurance and then facing a personal injury lawsuit can be intimidating. Instead of trying to navigate the law yourself while dealing with getting your car repaired and healing, you should work with an experienced personal injury attorney like Ted A. Greve.
The lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. understand how difficult car accidents can be on someone and their family, which is why they aggressively advocate for your recovery with an insurance company or in court. Call today to schedule a free case consultation with our aggressive car accident injury claim attorneys in Atlanta GA.