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Distracted Driving Accidents

distracted driving accidentsIt was a bright, spring day when Ann decided to post a few selfies and a status update of her love for Pharrell William’s song “Happy” to her Facebook page. The trouble is she was using her social media account while driving.

Exactly one minute after this post, Ann crosses the center divide, her car careening towards a recycling truck. Behind the wheel of the recycling truck, Edgar can feel his cellphone vibrating in his pants pocket. As one hand retrieves the smartphone, he glances away from the wheel towards its tiny screen.

Seconds before the cars collide, Ann veers violently to the left, slamming on her brakes mere inches away from a tree trunk. Luckily, no one got hurt this time.

This story is the reality we face when we allow ourselves to be distracted while driving, a leading cause of car accidents in Connecticut and throughout the US. Since the technological boom that gave us cellphones, smartphones, social media apps, tablets, and the like, distracted driving accidents have been steady on the rise.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 1 in 5 crashes are caused by a distracted driver.

Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous? | The Flood Law Firm

“You know we’ve all been guilty of it and it just brings home the realization that it’s really not worth it.” Lt. Chris Wisner

Yet, no matter how exciting, urgent, or easy to accomplish any task seems when you’re driving, it’s a decision that often ends in tragedy. As Lt. Chris Wisner, investigating officer on the scene of a distracted driving fatality, said, “You know we’ve all been guilty of it and it just brings home the realization that it’s really not worth it.”

Across the country, many laws have been enacted in an effort to reduce distracted driving crashes. In Connecticut, anyone convicted of distracted driving is penalized with one point on their license. Yet, even this consequence does nothing to deter many from texting, eating, or engaging in various distractions while driving.
If you’ve been in an accident with a distracted driver, it is understandable you’d want to pursue legal action against the person who hit you. The Flood Law Firm has represented hundreds of Connecticut residents whose lives have been upended by auto accidents and we’re ready to help you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Distracted Driving Accidents

What Are the Most Common Types of Driver Distraction?

By far, texting and driving is the most common careless behavior associated with distracted driving accidents. Reading, composing, and responding to text messages all distract from the three key faculties essential for safe driving: manual, visual, and cognitive attention.

However, texting is not the only distraction that can cause drivers to lose focus behind the wheel. Other common causes of distracted driving accidents include:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Interacting with passengers inside the car
  • Brushing or combing hair, applying makeup, and other grooming and hygiene activities
  • Playing loud music
  • Using smartphone apps, GPS devices, etc.
  • Looking at people and objects outside the car, including the scene of an accident (“rubbernecking”)

If you were injured in an accident with a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove that the other driver was distracted at the time of the crash.

A knowledgeable distracted driving accident attorney can collect evidence on your behalf to prove the other driver’s negligence. The Flood Law Firm will start investigating the crash promptly to establish the cause of the accident and help you hold the distracted driver accountable.

Read More: What to Do After a Distracted Driving Accident

What Percent of Accidents Are Blamed on Distracted Driving?

The Connecticut Crash Data Repository recorded a total of 97,818 crashes in 2021 (the most recent year of complete data). Distracted driving was identified as a factor in 5,495 of these accidents.

Overall, 5.62% of collisions in Connecticut involved some form of distracted driving. However, this percentage is likely low due to how short-lived most distractions are.

Typically, the victims of distracted driving accidents will not have time to notice that the other driver is texting, making a phone call, or distracted by something else in the seconds leading up to the crash. If possible, you should talk to witnesses at the scene to determine if the other driver was distracted. You should also communicate any observations concerning distracted driving to the police officer who responds to the crash.

What Is the Most Common Type of Crash Due to Distracted Driving?

Statistics from the Connecticut Crash Data Repository for the year 2021 show that following too closely is the number-one issue associated with distracted driving. Rear-end collisions accounted for 42% of all distracted driving accidents in Connecticut.

Of course, following another vehicle too closely is not the only error common among distracted drivers. Additional types of accidents commonly caused by distracted driving include:

Motorists and their passengers are not the only ones at risk from distracted drivers. Use of an electronic device was cited as a factor in 0.05% of pedestrian accidents in Connecticut.

What Is the Distracted Driving Law in Connecticut?

Lawmakers in Connecticut have taken action to crack down on cell phone use behind the wheel. Connecticut General Statute § 14-296aa establishes the following rules concerning distracted driving:

  • All drivers are prohibited from talking or texting on handheld mobile phones while operating a motor vehicle (CT Gen. Stat. § 14-296aa(b)).
  • Drivers of school buses are prohibited from using handheld or hands-free electronic devices to talk or text (CT Gen. Stat. § 14-296aa(c)).
  • Drivers under the age of 18 may not use electronic devices for talking or texting regardless of whether the device is handheld or hands-free (CT Gen. Stat. § 14-296aa(d)).
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles (including semi-trucks) are barred from talking or texting on hands-free or handheld electronics (CT Gen. Stat. § 14-296aa(e)).
  • Exceptions for the use of electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle exist in the event of an emergency (CT Gen. Stat. § 14-296aa(b)(4)).

Per CT Gen. Stat. § 14-296aa(h), drivers who violate these provisions face the following penalties:

  • $150 fine for the first violation
  • $300 fine for the second violation
  • $500 fine for all subsequent violations

Furthermore, drivers can face additional fines and other penalties if they commit a moving violation while distracted by an electronic device (CT Gen. Stat. § 14-296aa(i)).

At present there are no laws in Connecticut prohibiting distractions unrelated to talking and texting. However, motorists face civil liability if it can be shown that negligence on their part (e.g., distracted driving) led to an accident resulting in injury or wrongful death.

Do I Need a Lawyer After a Distracted Driving Accident?

It is in your best interest to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after any car accident that causes you serious injury or results in the death of a loved one. Distracted driving accidents are no exception.

The distracted driver may be clearly at fault for the crash. However, this will not stop the insurance company from aggressively disputing your claim.

Every team member at The Flood Law Firm is a firm believer in our mission to hold defendants and insurance companies accountable for acts of negligence and wrongdoing. Our distracted driving accident lawyers can assist you with all aspects of your claim, including:

  • Investigating the accident to establish the cause and who is at fault
  • Collecting evidence such as witness statements, photos of the accident scene, etc.
  • Assessing the severity and impact of your injuries; our team will review your medical records and consult with your doctors and other experts to understand how the accident will impact your life long-term
  • Calculating the value of your distracted driving accident claim
  • Handling all communications with the insurance company on your behalf
  • Negotiating a fair settlement of your claim
  • Filing a lawsuit (if necessary)
  • Obtaining the driver’s cell phone records to prove that talking on the phone or texting was a factor in the accident
  • Preparing and presenting your case at trial

Our results speak for themselves. We frequently achieve higher settlements for our clients because insurance carriers know that we will take cases to court. If your claim doesn’t settle, our attorneys will be ready to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.

5 Facts About Distracted Driving Accidents

  1. You’re 23 times more likely to crash when you text while driving.
  2. It is illegal to use a handheld smartphone or send a text in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
  3. A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found drivers participate in some form of distracted driving activity over 50% of the time they spend behind the wheel.
  4. Women are more likely to reach for their cell phones while driving than men.
  5. Drivers spend an average of 5 seconds with their eyes off the road and on their cell phones. This is equivalent to driving the length of a football field without ever looking at the road.

Teens and Distracted Driving

Teens are doubly at risk for distracted driving accidents, not only due to their general inexperience on the road but also because of their addiction to social media. Teen drivers are less likely to consider the consequences of driving behaviors and often overestimate their ability to handle an automobile in emergency situations.

In the age of instant gratification, 9 in 10 teens expect a text or email to be responded to in 5 minutes or less, which puts added pressure to use their smartphones while driving.

how common are distracted driving accidents?

Connecticut Distracted Driving Laws

In the state of Connecticut, distracted driving is considered a moving violation with heavy penalties. Drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones, but hands-free devices are legal.  All electronic devices, even handheld, are restricted for drivers 18 and under, as well as for school bus drivers. Texting while driving is illegal.

5 Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

While there’s no way to control the behavior of other drivers on the road, you can choose safe driving behaviors when traveling. Here are a few tips on avoiding distracted driving:

  1. Put your smartphone in your purse, backpack, briefcase, or even your glove box. If you can’t immediately grab your phone, you’ll be less tempted to use it when you’re on the road.
  2. There’s an app for that, namely AT&T’s DriveMode for iPhone and Android. This app silences incoming texts, sends a response to your message senders, and can alert you if your teen tries to turn it off.
  3. Leave home prepared for your day. Drowsiness is a commonly overlooked form of distracted driving, so be sure to be as well-rested as possible before your drive. Additionally, you won’t be trying to use the rearview as a vanity mirror and potentially poke your eye out with a mascara wand.
  4. Focus on one task at a time, namely driving. Taking your eyes off the road for as little as 5 seconds can lead to disaster.
  5. When traveling a new route, try to use your navigation system before heading out. A little preparedness can go a long way in preventing an accident.

Contact a Connecticut Auto Accident Attorney

If you are injured by a distracted driver, your first instinct may be to contact the other party’s insurer. Typically, liability and comprehensive collision policies have payout limits, and adjusters often offer low settlement amounts that benefit their company’s interest.

This is why the counsel of a personal injury attorney is your best asset after a car accident. Depending on your insurance agent to negotiate for you probably won’t serve you well, especially if your injuries are severe or if you’ve lost a loved one to the accident.

However, an attorney can help guide you through the entire process. From making sure you receive medical care for your injuries to recovering compensation for lost wages, pain, and suffering.

If you’ve been in an accident with a distracted driver, you’re not alone. The Flood Law Firm is here to help you understand your legal options. Contact our office today for your free case evaluation.

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