Distracted Driving, Dangerous and Difficult to Enforce
Distracted driving as become an epidemic in this country. As the rate of unsafe drivers grows, so do the number of car accidents and injuries to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Many different activities can take a drivers attention away from the road such as drinking coffee, eating, playing with the radio or attending to a child. However, the top cause of dangerous distraction is cell phone use. As a result, many states have banned using cell phones, handheld devices or texting while driving. In fact, New York was the first state to make it illegal to talk on a cell phone, text or use portable electric devices while driving a vehicle.
Accordingly, law enforcement is trying to look out for drivers using cell phones and enforce laws against this use. However, catching motorists in the act can be difficult and getting drivers to admit they were talking, texting or surfing the web while operating a motor vehicle is proving problematic for police when investigating accidents caused by distracted drivers. Consequently, though it is illegal, we continue to see car crashes caused by distracted driving on the rise.
Distracted Driving Causes Accidents, Injuries And Death
In 2009, more than 5,000 people were killed and another 440,000 injured in auto accidents involving drivers using cell phones. According to the NY Department of Motor Vehicles, out of every five-car accidents, one was caused by a distracted driver. In New York, police say distracted driving accidents increased a full percentage point, from 17.6 to 18.6, from 2001 to 2009. By comparison, drunk driving accidents increased by half a percent during the same time period.
The impact of distracted drivers is not only felt by other drivers or vehicle passengers. Pedestrians are also at risk of injury due to cell phone use. It is common practice for individuals to walk though busy intersections while talking or texting with their cell phones. This behavior causes many to become oblivious to their surroundings, often walking during a red light or into oncoming traffic. Distracted while walking is not an illegal offense, but the practice is leading to accidents with motor vehicles and often severe injuries, even death, for the distracted pedestrian. This problem may continue to grow as our society becomes more dependent on handheld electronic devices in all aspects of daily life.
Experts recommend that both motorists and pedestrians use caution when using a cell phone whether they are driving a vehicle or walking down the street. Statistics show that by not doing so people are putting themselves at risk. The best defense against an accident can be to obey the laws, be aware of your surroundings and concentrate on the task at hand; it may save your life.
If you are involved in an accident due to a distracted driver, it is important to protect your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you sustained. Damages will depend on the circumstances of the crash and the extent of your injuries and may include medical costs, future medical care, lost wages, property damages and pain and suffering. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case and help you pursue the best course of action for you and your family.