The distracted driving statistics are clear - when behind the wheel distraction in all forms kills, injures, harms - and is entirely preventable.
Texting and driving is the most dangerous because it involves all three types of driver distractions:
Visual Distractions Explained
Visual Distractions - Anything a driver looks at that takes their eyes off the road ahead.
- Peeking at kids in the backseat
- Looking at passing building, signs or billboards
- Staring at a vehicle's GPS HUD display
- Texting or using electronic devices
Manual Distractions Explained
Manual Distractions - When drivers remove one or both hands from the wheel to handle something
- Eating or Drinking
- Searching for items
- Texting or using electronic devices
- Hanging clothes
Cognitive Distractions Explained
Cognitive Distractions - Also known as mental distractions. Being mentally distracted includes anything causing a motorist’s mind to not focus on potential hazards while driving.
- Talking to a passenger
- Focusing on the radio or podcast
- Thinking about work or school
- Texting or using electronic devices
As stated above texting while driving falls into all three categories - mobile hand-held use causes cognitive, manual and visual driver distraction.
Just imagine you are driving. A message arrives on your mobile phone, you see it and are visually distracted. Reading a text requires the driver to think about the message and a response which is mentally distracting. Then you remove your hand form the wheel to use the tap out a text results in manual distraction.
An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney who deals with crash victims on a daily basis knows first hand and will tell you how deadly this can be for motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike.
The first and most important thing parents can do is lead by example. Parents should not text or use their mobile device while driving anyway. This is especially important when children are in the car. Set an example by pulling over to take phone calls or text. Children learn from adults so teach the right lessons.
Safety Tips for Parents and Teens?
Here are more safety tips on how to prevent teen distracted driving.
Set some RULES:
- No passengers in the car
- One passenger in the car
- One radio station or artist while the car is moving
- Turn off all cell phones while driving
- Meet with your teens peers to talk about the dangers of distracted driving
Beside different types of laws for distracted driving there are also rules for how these restrictions are enforced.
There are primary and secondary enforcement rules that govern the ticketing and stopping of drivers using cellphones.
- Primary Enforcement - This means a police officer can stop and cite you for only violating the distracted driving law.
- Secondary Enforcement - This means a police officer can only ticket you for distracted driving if you violated another primary law such as speeding.
All these different laws and types of enforcement can be very confusing from state to state, city to city, county to county.
Next up... What the Federal government is doing to codify and standardize the laws regulating hand-held mobile phone use while driving?
Federal Government Incentives to Help Prevent Mobile Caused Driver Distraction?
In 2012 the US Congress passed the MAP-21 Act. This is the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. This bipartisan legislation provides funding to States who enact safety laws prohibiting or limiting the use of cellular phones while driving.
What Can You Do to Help?
Take the Pledge Movement.
This nationwide movement asks you to pledge not to use cell phones while driving and be an attentive driver. You can help save lives and prevent crashes today.
- Protect lives by not text or take phone call while driving. It can wait.
- Be a good passenger and say something to distracted drivers.
- Encourage your friends and family to put phones down while driving.
Learn more about the “It Can Wait” slogan to help prevent accidents by not being a distracted driver at the USAA pledge drive here.
As we’ve seen there are a variety of Laws, Campaigns and Slogans designed to prevent distracted driving.
However the car accident rate associated with distraction events continues to increase.
Next up... what you should do if you are involved in a distraction caused car accident?
For the average person, police officer or even for a plaintiffs' attorney it may be difficult to prove that someone was distracted or texting behind the wheel when the crash occurred.
Victims of distraction caused accidents should seek representation with a professional motor vehicle accident attorney immediately following the crash.
A skilled attorney not afraid to go to trial if necessary and who understands the ways to prove distraction caused events will help maximize a claimants ability to get full and just compensation for damages suffered.
Your accident lawyer will look to gather the following three forms of evidence courts recognize when building a case to prove the vehicle operator was distracted by a mobile device.
3 Pieces of Crucial Evidence Used to Prove Distracted Driving
1. Cell Phone Records of Usage
Police along with representing attorneys will subpoena the at-fault driver’s phone records directly from their mobile provider. Companies like Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T or Sprint quickly turnover these records which are in two forms.
- What are the two forms of cellular records used in a distracted driving case?
- Call Detail Records or “CDR”
- Billing Records
CDR Call Records: These records have information on the call from and call to numbers. The Text message sending and receiving numbers. These records will show the date and time of cell phone activity down to the second.
Mobile Billing Records: The billing records typically only contain information about the time a call was made. This is more of a general statement of mobile phone activity which shows usage by minute only. Seconds matter in a car crash so it is crucial to obtain the CDR record.
2. Witnesses Statements & Testimony
This includes the collection of witness testimony or being called to testify in distracted driving accident case. Two types of testimony for this discussion are biased and unbiased.
- Biased Witnesses: are parties that were involved in the incident or know someone involved in the crash. Their statements as testimony may be given less weight by the police or court system.
- Unbiased Witnesses: are parties who are not involved in or had anything to do with the incident. Their testimony can be highly valued. An eye witness saying, “I saw the driver looking at her phone just before she slammed into the other vehicle” can be decisive and is considered strong.
3. Police Records and Statements
Because of laws banning cell phone usage while driving, it's not uncommon for a chronic texting driver to have been cited previously.
As we discussed above these laws are enforced in a variety of ways. If a driver has been cited for driving distracted in the past it could show a pattern of negligent behavior.
In addition, a violation of the traffic laws is generally considered a failure of driver's duty and is an element of proving negligence. You can read more about the 5 elements of negligence here.
Shortly after the accident police will gather information. Since 95% of all drivers have a cell phone officers will be looking carefully for where the phone is located in the at-fault driver’s car. This location could help establish and prove usage of the hand-held at the time of the accident.
Police records will also confirm the witness testimony and provide crucial information about the speed of the vehicle that caused the accident and if any additional traffic laws were violated.
Distraction can lead to a driver failing to stop at an intersection, running a red light, speeding through a stop sign, among many other dangerous violations.
Since distracted drivers aren’t paying attention their collisions tend to show a higher rate of speed, generally cause greater damage, and result in the driver failing to take action to avoid a collision as would be reasonably expected if they were paying better attention.
Distracted driving is very dangerous.
Whether this is caused by fatigue or texting it has become an epidemic in the United States.
While Federal and State governments continue to push for tougher laws the death toll and injuries from distracted driving continue to increase.
Parents children and all drives should do what they can to prevent further incidents.
If you or someone you know was killed or injured by a distracted driver getting expert legal representation is critical to receiving justice.
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