Distracted Driving may be thought of as any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from driving. Distracted driving can consist of engaging in activities such as:
- Talking on a cell phone,
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or other music device,
- Changing car settings, such as adjusting mirrors or changing the temperature, and
- Reading maps or navigation devices.
Distracted Driving Kills and Injures*
According to distraction.gov, the official US government website for distracted driving, there were 3,328 people killed in distraction – affected crashes in 2012. This was a slight decrease from the 3,360 people killed in 2011.
Unfortunately, the number of people injured in distracted driving crashes increased by approximately 9% over the same time. It is estimated that 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes that involved a distracted driver in 2012, up significantly from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
Young People Engage in a High Percentage of Distracted Driving
Young people have been involved in a high proportion of distracted driving crashes. In fatal car accidents involving drivers under the age of 20, 11% of the drivers were involved in some type of distracted driving. Drivers under the age of 20 made up the largest group of distracted drivers.
Alarmingly, of the drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 who were in fatal crashes, 21% were distracted by the use of cell phones. 25% of teens admitted to responding to responding to text messages at least once every time they drive, and 20% of teens (as well as 10% of parents) admitted to engaging in multi-message texting while driving.
Following An Accident, We Want to Know Whether the Other Driver was Engaged in Distracted Driving
We will want to depose the other driver and any passengers in the driver’s car to find out if the driver was engaged in distracted driving. Assuming that the other driver is the defendant, the other driver may have an incentive to not tell the truth in order to protect his or her own interests. In some cases, the other driver, and the passengers in the car or vehicle, may have sustained head injuries and/or simply be unable to recall what happened immediately prior to the accident.
Cell phones, however, tell the truth.
If the driver was talking on the phone, surfing the Internet, or texting immediately prior to the accident, these activities will be recorded in the cell phone records of the driver. As a result, in most cases we will want to obtain these records in order to determine whether the driver was using his or her phone immediately prior to the accident which may have caused the driver to become distracted. Cell phone activities, such as texting, can be a strong indicator that the driver likely was not paying full attention to driving, which may have caused the accident.
At Ressler & Tesh, we have seen the tragic results that can happen in a second from auto accidents. We urge all drivers to engage in safe conduct. When drivers choose not to drive safely and their poor choices lead to injury and death, we seek to hold them liable to the full extent possible on behalf of our clients.
* Source: Distraction.gov, https://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html