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Distracted driving is a leading public safety issue in the U.S., ranking higher in annual car accident fatalities than speeding or even drunk driving. Every day, an estimated nine lives are lost and 1,153 people are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Distracted Driving Overview
Distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Distractions may include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Manipulating other handheld devices, such as an mp3 player or GPS
- Eating or drinking
- Using in-vehicle technologies, such as navigation systems
- Talking to passengers
- Adjusting radio or climate controls
- Reading, including maps
- Personal grooming
Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is easily the most dangerous activity one can perform behind the wheel, increasing a driver’s odds of crashing by 23 times. A driver reading or composing a text message typically takes their eyes off the road for five seconds. When travelling at a speed of 55 mph, that is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
Distracted Driving Puts Everyone at Risk
Teenagers have the highest proportion of distracted driving accidents, and account for approximately 11% of distracted driving fatalities, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. In a survey conducted by AT&T, 97% of teens agreed that texting while driving was dangerous; and yet, 43% admit they do it anyway.
While younger drivers make up the highest percentage of distracted driving accidents, the issue is not confined to young, inexperienced drivers. Studies have shown that drivers of all ages engage in this dangerous habit, and older drivers who text behind the wheel may be at even greater risk of causing a car accident, according to a study conducted by researchers at Wayne State University.
State Texting Bans
Several lawmakers and safety advocacy groups have launched campaigns aimed at minimizing the number of distracted driving fatalities on U.S. roads. Fourteen states, plus the District of Colombia, have banned the use of handheld devices for all drivers. These states, which include New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have made using a handheld device a primary offense, meaning the officer can pull a driver over and issue a ticket without any other traffic offense taking place. Forty-four states and D.C. have a ban on text messaging for all drivers.
Studies have shown that these laws do seem to be effective – but only under certain circumstances. Preliminary research has indicated that states with stricter laws, higher rates of enforcement and with more severe penalties are more effective in deterring drivers from engaging in this dangerous behavior.
Proving Negligence in a Distracted Driving Case
Distracted driving can lead to car accidents, property damage, car accident injuries and wrongful death. All drivers have a legal duty of care to drive responsibly. When a driver chooses to engage in activities that divert his attention away from the primary function of driving, it is considered an act of negligence. Negligent drivers can be held liable for all losses incurred by car accident victims. In order for victims to recover financial compensation, they must first prove that the other driver’s negligent behavior caused the accident.
Evidence of Distracted Driving May Include:
- Admission from the driver
- Testimony of witnesses who say the driver was not paying attention
- Cell phone, text, or email records
- Video evidence from surveillance or police dashboard cameras, or pedestrian cell phone video
- Analysis of skid marks, or lack of skid marks indicating the driver did not brake
Car Accident Attorneys Obtain Compensation For Injuries Caused by Distracted Drivers
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, South Jersey car accident lawyersof Grungo Law can help. Our legal team of experienced South Jersey personal injury lawyers have successfully obtained over $75 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients in South Jersey and Philadelphia.
To discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable and highly skilled South Jersey car accident lawyers, contact us online or call (856) 528-4494 today to schedule your no-cost consultation. Our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia allow us to represent personal injury victims throughout South Jersey.