When drivers avert their eyes and attention from the road, they play a dangerous game that vastly increases the chances of catastrophic crashes. More than 1,000 people are hurt — and nine lose their lives — every day in the United States because of distracted driving.
Nearly everyone now uses a smartphone in most aspects of daily life, including banking, shopping and communicating. Those highly useful devices become dangerous and even deadly when they distract drivers, and crash-related fatalities continue to increase as a result.
Texting while driving is against the law in Arkansas, regardless of the age of the driver. The illegality of texting and driving hasn’t stopped many motorists from practicing this dangerous habit, however, and too many innocent people pay the price.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan LeVar advise victims of crashes related to distracted driving, assisting them in recovering compensation for medical bills, time lost from work, and other expenses. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, what do you need to know to protect your rights?
Types of Distracted Driving
Texting and using apps on smartphones have become primary causes of distracted driving in recent years. Using handheld devices like smartphones presents a significant risk because the activity occupies a driver’s hands, vision and mental attention at the same time. Even hands-free devices often require this complex combination of attention, increasing the risk of accidents.
Other tasks that take a driver’s attention from the road also fall under the umbrella of distracted driving. Eating, applying makeup, or adjusting a radio or GPS navigation device all are examples of distracted driving. Any activities other than keeping hands on the wheel and attention on the road — including talking with passengers — can increase the chances of a crash.
However, texting while driving poses special dangers because it employs all three categories of possible distraction for a driver: cognitive, manual and visual. Reading or sending a text message means a driver’s eyes are off the road for approximately five seconds — enough time to drive the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour.
Motorists of all ages fall prey to the lure of distracted driving, but teens and young adults are at especially high risk. Drivers younger than 20 are involved in the highest proportion of fatal crashes related to distractions, and teens who admit texting and driving also are more likely to drink and drive, and they are less likely to use seatbelts.
Distracted Driving by Commercial Drivers
Teens aren’t the only group of motorists at high risk of causing injuries and fatalities related to distracted driving. Commercial drivers — those operating big rigs or transporting hazardous materials, for instance — cause significant dangers to the driving public when they take their attention away from the road.
In recent years, the federal government has implemented special rules — with stiff penalties — against texting and driving by commercial operators. For example, a presidential executive order prohibits federal employees from texting if they are driving using government equipment or are on government business.
In addition, the Federal Railroad Administration prohibits employees from using cell phones and other electronic devices on the job, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned commercial drivers from texting and driving. That organization and the Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also have banned any use of hand-held cell phones among commercial drivers and drivers transporting hazardous materials.
Despite the rules, some commercial drivers continue to break the law and text when they are behind the wheel. This dangerous action puts every other motorist on the road at risk.
Research has found that commercial drivers who text behind the wheel have significantly higher risk of unsafe movements — including crashes, near-crashes, and unintentional shifts into another lane. Accidents involving large commercial vehicles can cause life-changing injuries for other motorists. Commercial operators who drive in a distracted state, along with the owners of the commercial vehicles, must pay fair compensation when their actions harm innocent members of the public.
Work with Experienced Distracted Driving Attorneys
Distracted driving significantly increases the chances of catastrophic crashes that can seriously injure or kill others on the roads. With the skyrocketing popularity of smartphones and texting, the risk on the nation’s highways continues to increase.
No one should text or engage in other distracting behaviors behind the wheel. Law enforcement officers continually strive to get the word out that if drivers must text, they should pull over to a safe location. Despite awareness efforts to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving, the risky behaviors continue.
If you or a family member have been involved in a crash attributable to distracted driving, you may have suffered debilitating injuries with long-lasting effects. By working with experienced distracted driving attorneys, you can begin the process of recovering fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, please contact the Law Offices of Alan LeVar.