Distracted Driving Accidents
It 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.
“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.
5 Facts About Distracted Driving Accidents
- You’re 23 times more likely to crash when you text while driving.
- It is illegal to use a handheld smartphone or send a text in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
- 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.
- Women are more likely to reach for their cell phones while driving than men.
- 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 over estimate 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.
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 divers on the road, you can choose safe driving behaviors when traveling. Here are a few tips on avoiding distracted driving:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.