We all are aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated and of the injuries and deaths that can result from such behavior. It is easy to think that the issue is black and white — that someone was either driving with an elevated blood alcohol level, or they were not. But a new category of dangerous driving is emerging which can lead to accidents and injury on our roadways, and those who are injured in car accidents should be aware of the issues surrounding it.
The category is known as “distracted driving.” Of course, since cars were invented, drivers could always be distracted, whether by the radio, air conditioner, or someone sitting in the passenger seat. With the increase in technology that is in our cars and in our hands as we drive our cars, the term has taken on a brand new meaning.
Much has been made of the dangers of texting while driving. Distracted driving can also include distractions from using navigation systems, or the “infotainment” systems that are built into many cars. These systems often use large touchscreens, and many do not just control entertainment functions like radios, but in many cases, vital information about the car must be accessed through these systems, such as oil levels, engine conditions, or driver settings.
Statistics Show the Problem
The problem is serious. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Of 15-19 year old drivers killed in fatal car accidents, 10% were involved in distracted driving, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
It is easy to see how. In just five seconds—the time that it takes to send a text message or play with the touchscreen monitor in your car—a vehicle going 55mph can cover the length of a football field.
Younger drivers, who are just getting used to driving in the first place, and older drivers, who may be overwhelmed with the technology, are particularly at risk.
Distracted Driving and Lawsuits
When it comes to lawsuits, the technology is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it seems to be causing more incidents. But the technology also records vital functions of the vehicle—much like an airplane’s black box. As a result, victims can often obtain vital information about what the driver was doing just moments before a crash, often revealing that the driver was distracted.
Of course, cell phone providers also have information on text messages, and in many cases, a victim in an accident can obtain those records to show that a driver’s attention was somewhere other than on the road.
This all means that although there is no “test” to see if someone was driving while distracted the way a blood alcohol test can be given to those suspected of driving while intoxicated, there are still many effective ways for an accident victim to show that a driver was distracted.
If you are injured in a car accident for any reason, make sure you know who is responsible and why. Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss the handling of your auto accident claim.