What is Distracted Driving, and Why is it Dangerous?

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What is Distracted Driving and Why is it Dangerous?

Distracted driving involves any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. It is an extremely dangerous behavior that risks other motorists and pedestrians. In fact, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving caused 3,142 deaths in 2020. Get the facts on why distracted driving is so dangerous and how to seek legal action if you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver.

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. Our car accident attorneys draw from over a century of combined experience to fight on behalf of victims harmed in all types of car accidents, including those caused by distracted driving.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

When a driver takes their eyes off the road for five seconds or more when driving 55 miles per hour, it is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with their eyes closed. Many behaviors may take a driver’s eyes off the road for this long, including using a smartphone, eating, drinking, looking for a lost item, and more.

While all distracted driving behaviors are dangerous, using a smartphone while driving is particularly dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive:

  • Visual distraction: The driver’s eyes are taken off the road.
  • Manual distraction: The driver’s hands are taken off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive distraction: The driver’s mind is taken off the task of driving.

Sadly, the dangers of distracted driving do not seem to deter people from engaging in these behaviors. Driver distractions are the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), 80 percent of accidents and 65 percent of near collisions involve some form of driver distraction.

Driving Distractions and Younger Drivers

While people of all age groups participate in distracted driving, certain age groups are most at risk. A teen driver (a driver under the age of 20) has the highest proportion of distracted-related fatal crashes. According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers have crash rates nearly 4 times those of drivers 20 and older per mile driven.

Distracted Driving Laws

distracted driver at steering wheel with smartphone in her hand.

The rise in cell phone use in the last couple of decades—compounded with the introduction of smartphones—has led many states to enact laws surrounding cell phone use while driving.

  • Hand-held cell phone use: 19 states and the District of Columbia have prohibited all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. In these states, a law enforcement officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All cell phone use: While no state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, 39 states and the District of Columbia ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and the District of Columbia ban it for school bus drivers.
  • Text messaging: 48 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also prohibits commercial drivers from texting while driving.

Distracted driving has serious consequences. Not only will distracted drivers face heavy fines, higher insurance premiums, and loss of driving privileges, but they also have the potential to seriously injure or kill another motorist or pedestrian. This may lead to criminal penalties and possible jail time.

Types of Distracted Driving

Despite these potential risks and penalties, many drivers continue to engage in distracting behaviors while operating their vehicles. While dangerous, texting and driving is not the only way for drivers to become distracted on the road. Other forms of distracted driving include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Looking up directions on other electronic devices such as a GPS
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Having a conversation with a passenger
  • Listening to music
  • Managing children or pets in the car
  • Adjusting climate controls or the radio while driving

While the onus should be on motorists not to drive distracted, many will never accept the responsibility of driving. Therefore, it is in your best interest to know what to look for to avoid distracted drivers and reduce your likelihood of an accident. While driving, be wary of drivers that are:

dangerous distracted driving situation
  • Driving too fast or slow
  • Swerving in between lanes
  • Braking suddenly
  • Staying still once traffic starts moving

Taking Action Against Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, accidents may still happen even if you take the appropriate safety measures to avoid distracted drivers. If you have been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, you should not have to suffer for their negligence.

Drivers who cause an accident while distracted can be liable for any injuries or damage resulting from the accident.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove distracted driving caused your accident and recover the compensation you deserve. To support your case, you and your personal injury attorney will collect:

  • Cell phone records. If you make a negligence claim, the law firm can subpoena the Defendant’s cell phone records. That will allow the lawyers to examine when the driver was texting or talking on the phone.
  • Witnesses. Eyewitness accounts may help bolster your case. Collecting witnesses’ contact information and testimony is in your best interest.
  • Police officer’s testimony. A police officer’s testimony or a police report will help support your claim that a distracted driver caused your accident.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Us Today

driver distraction

When motorists engage in distracting behaviors while operating a vehicle, they consciously decide to drive negligently. You may be left with catastrophic, life-changing injuries when this results in an accident.

If you are looking for the highest level of representation available for your personal injury case, turn to Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. Our firm has helped clients recover more than $500 million in compensation, and we have more than 100 years of combined experience. All of our partners are recognized by Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers®, and our firm includes three past presidents of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. 

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we fight relentlessly on behalf of the victims and families who have been adversely affected by car accidents caused by distracted drivers. If you or someone you love has been injured by a driver who you suspect was engaging in distracted driving, do not hesitate to contact us. We will investigate all circumstances surrounding your accident, secure supporting evidence, and create a customized plan that establishes negligence and liability.

Contact us today at (202) 659-8600 to learn how we can help you.

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