Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted Driving Accident Injury Attorney
Enddistracteddriving.org describes distracted driving as any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the task of driving, offering the following distracted driving statistics:
- The NHTSA estimates that 3,450 lives were lost in U.S. car accidents in 2016 as a result of distracted driving.
- Distracted driving collisions are very underreported; few people who are involved in a car collision want to admit they were distracted.
- Teen drivers are even more likely than adult drivers to be distracted while behind the wheel, particularly when other teens are also in the car.
- The University of Utah found that drivers are just as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as when they drive while intoxicated, with a BAC of 0.08 percent.
- The same University of Utah study found that those who talk on their cell phone while driving are 5.36 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that sending or reading a text message increases the risk of a collision or near-collision by twenty-three times.
- When you send or read a text, your eyes are off the road for at least five seconds—long enough to cover a football field while traveling at 55 mph.(NHTSA)
- The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that while more than 84 percent of drivers recognize the dangers of sending or reading texts while driving—and find the risk “unacceptable”—36 percent of these same people admit they sometimes read or send a text or e-mail while driving.
The truth is, there are a variety of distractions which drivers encounter on a daily basis, and there are different types of distraction as well. A visual distraction occurs when you are driving and take your eyes off the road, whether for a second or a longer period of time. Manual distraction occurs when your hand or hands are removed from the wheel. A cognitive distraction occurs when a driver is thinking about anything other than driving—a conversation with a passenger, a problem in his or her life, an upcoming vacation—anything other than the road ahead and the surrounding drivers.
A parent who turns around to yell at a child, pick up a bottle or toy, or swat the child’s leg who has been kicking the seat for the past ten minutes, is suffering from all three types of distraction—a very dangerous combination. Texting also involves all three types of distractions, which is why it is so deadly. When you engage in texting, your hand is off the wheel, your eyes are off the road, and your mind is on the text you are sending or the person you are sending it to, rather than your driving.
While cell phones can certainly be deadly, there are other distractions that are dangerous as well. How many of us routinely eat and drink while driving? What happens when your taco drips on your brand-new skirt? First, you remove a hand from the wheel to attempt to catch the sauce. Next, your eyes leave the road as you survey the damage, and last, your mind wanders to the subject of how you will get your skirt cleaned and still make it to work on time. You have just engaged in a manual/cognitive/visual distraction, and in that very few seconds when your mind, hand, and eyes are away from the task of driving, an accident can happen.
What about talking to the passengers in your car, sometimes even turning around to talk? Most of us are guilty of this distraction at one time or another. If you live in the city, you have likely seen women applying makeup or combing their hair while driving; in fact, some women routinely use the drive to work to take care of such tasks. Visitors to a new area can often be seen reading a map that is spread out across the steering wheel while the car is in motion. Fiddling with a GPS system, radio station, car controls, or CD player are common as well.
In other words, most all of us who have been driving for any length of time are guilty of at least one of these distractions. Parents, especially those of small children, have even more distractions. The baby is crying in the back seat and you turn around to see why. The kids are fighting in the back seat and you turn around to threaten or cajole. While all of these things are “normal,” they remain extremely unsafe behaviors which can lead to serious or even fatal car accidents.
Frequently Asked Questions About Distracted Driving
How Can I Limit the Risk of Distracted Driving Accidents?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and others from the dangers of distracted driving:
- Lead by Example: Be a responsible driver and avoid any distractions behind the wheel. Set a positive example for your passengers and other drivers.
- Stay Focused: When driving, make it a priority. Stay alert, keep both hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the road.
- Plan Ahead: Adjust controls, set your GPS, and make necessary phone calls before you start driving.
- Use Technology Wisely: If you need GPS directions or have to take an important call, use hands-free devices or pull over safely to manage these tasks.
- Speak Up: If you’re a passenger and notice the driver is distracted, speak up and offer to help with tasks like navigation.
- Support Legislation: Support laws and initiatives that aim to reduce distracted driving. Encourage your community and lawmakers to take action.
Why Is It Legal to Use a Cell Phone While Driving in Some States and Not in Others?
States across the United States have the right to make their own laws regarding cell phone use while driving. While cell phone use while driving remains a secondary offense in most states (meaning a police officer cannot stop a driver for the offense unless the driver is committing a “primary offense,” such as running a stoplight or crossing the center line). Some states, however, are making cell phone use while driving a primary offense so when an officer sees a driver using a cell phone, the driver can be ticketed for that offense alone.
What Are the Cell Phone Laws in Louisiana?
There are several laws in Louisiana pertaining to cell phone/texting while driving, some of which overlap. All drivers are prohibited from writing, sending or reading a text while driving (including e-mails, instant messages, and regular text messages) All drivers are prohibited from accessing, reading or posting to social media while driving.
All drivers are prohibited from engaging in a cell phone call while in a school zone during posted school hours. Exceptions to the above include when a driver is reporting an emergency or criminal activity, using a GPS system, or when a device is being used by emergency services personnel during the discharge of official duties.
A person with a learner’s permit is prohibited from using a cellphone while driving unless using a hands-free device or to report an emergency or criminal activity. Minors are prohibited from using any type of wireless device while operating a motor vehicle unless reporting an emergency or a criminal activity. First-time license holders may not use a cell phone for any purpose while driving. Adults are still allowed to use a cell phone to talk while driving.
Can I Text at a Stop Light?
The answer to that question depends on the state and its laws. You could potentially be ticketed for texting while at a stoplight or stop sign in the state of Louisiana. There are no states which prohibit you from pulling a vehicle entirely off the road, turning off the engine and texting.
Can I Use the Maps Feature on My Smartphone?
This is a very gray area and will come down to the specific wording in each state’s distracted driving and cell phone use laws. It appears that the state of Louisiana does allow using the GPS feature on your cell phone. Similarly, Louisiana has not banned setting a dashboard GPS while driving, although some states have.
Why Are There so Many Distracted Driving Law Ambiguities?
Electronic distracted driving laws are relatively new, with some states having written the laws before texting became widespread. In some instances, lawmakers really did not have a handle on the technologies they were seeking to regulate. Because of this, the distracted driving laws can quickly become outdated, leading many states to amend and fine tune their current laws related to cell phone use and distracted driving in general.
What is “Textalyzer”?
There is a new technology which would allow a police officer to test a cell phone to see whether it was being used at the time of an accident, without revealing personal information. According to an NBC news report, New York’s state legislature appointed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to study the implications of the Textalyzer, but currently the technology remains under development by Cellebrite, an Israeli firm. If a phone were password-protected, the owner would be required to unlock it before the police officer could plug the Textalyzer—a tablet-like device—into the suspect’s phone. There are currently many legal issues concerning the Textalyzer, first and foremost that it gives officers full discretion to decide who to use the device against.
Distracted Driving Accidents
If you were injured by a distracted driver, it is extremely important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney from Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers who has experience with distracted driving accidents and is familiar with the signs of a distracted driver. The distracted driving laws in Louisiana were designed to prevent accidents and save lives, yet distracted driving accident injuries continue.
When attention is diverted from the act of driving, innocent people are placed in harm’s way. The distracted driving accident attorneys at Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers are committed to holding negligent, distracted drivers accountable. We can help you seek and secure fair compensation for your losses following a distracted driving accident in Louisiana. Whether negotiated or litigated we seek to recover maximum compensation for your losses. Contact Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers today to discuss your distracted driving accident.