A distraction while driving involves any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from controlling the vehicle, making quick decisions, following traffic laws, and responding to changes in traffic or road conditions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,100 people lost their lives and 431,000 suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving in 2014. According to the NHTSA data, approximately 10 percent of all motorists under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted drivers. It only takes one second of distraction for a serious car accident to occur.
The attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush help people who have been hurt in cell phone-related car accidents in Providence and throughout New England. Contact us now to find out how we can achieve extraordinary results for you through compassionate and experienced legal representation.
How to Prove Distracted Driving Was the Cause of Your Accident
Because distracted driving is so dangerous, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries if you can prove that the driver who caused the collision was focused on something other than driving. The evidence needed to support a claim involving distracted driving may be found in sources such as:
- Police reports.
- Citations issued to truckers for handheld phone use in violation of federal or state law.
- Phone records showing a driver was texting or talking at the time of the accident.
- Witness statements indicating that the trucker was distracted.
- An admission from the truck driver that he or she wasn’t focused on the road.
- Reports from an accident reconstruction expert indicating that distraction was the likely cause of the crash.
Types of Distractions That Can Cause a Distracted Driver Accident
Driving distractions take three forms: visual, physical and mental.
- Drivers using cell phones experience visual distraction when their eyes are taken off the road to dial, read a text or answer a call.
- When a driver’s hand is taken off the wheel to answer a call, dial a number or type a text message, a physical distraction occurs.
- A cognitive distraction occurs when a driver pays attention to the cell phone rather than the road.
Specific examples of distracted driving include:
- using a cell phone to call or text someone;
- putting on makeup;
- using a GPS;
- changing the radio or CD;
- eating or drinking;
- talking to others in the vehicle;
- watching a video; and
- reading maps.
Car Accidents Caused by Texting and Driving
One of the most recognized cell phone distractions involves talking or texting while driving. Distracted driving has reached epidemic levels in Providence and across the country. At any given moment in the United States, there are 660,000 vehicles driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. Each day, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 are injured in distracted-driving crashes.
Text messaging involves visual, manual and cognitive distraction. It is one of the most dangerous tasks a driver can perform behind the wheel.
While sending a text message, a driver typically takes his or her eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. When traveling at highway speeds, this equates to driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. Texting and driving makes a crash up to 23 times more likely to occur.
Rhode Islanders who use cell phones behind the wheel put other motorists in danger. It is illegal to text and drive in Rhode Island. Any cell phone use while driving may cause an accident.
Answering a call, placing a call and continuing to talk while driving cause manual and cognitive distractions. Dialing, for example, nearly triples the risk of crashes, while reaching for a device increases the risk of a crash 1.4 times. Talking or listening increases crash risk 1.3 times.
Hands-free cell phone devices, which are supposed to be less dangerous for drivers, have been found to be no safer than handheld phones.
Rhode Island Cell Phone Laws
Although there is an “all cell phone ban” in Rhode Island for school bus drivers and novice drivers (i.e., drivers under the age of 18), there is not a ban on the use of hand-held devices.
Studies have shown that using a cell phone while driving — whether the phone is hand-held or hands-free —delays a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent (the legal limit for drunk driving).
Distracted Driving and Truckers
Interstate truck and bus drivers are prohibited by federal law from operating their vehicles while using handheld cell phones. Unfortunately, not every driver obeys these rules. Accidents still occur in Rhode Island involving truckers who were distracted by cell phones.
Truckers may become involved in crashes when using other electronic devices in their vehicles such as navigation systems, or when distracted by activities such as eating, smoking, grooming, adjusting vehicle controls or even just daydreaming.
A truck driver is considered an agent of his or her employer while at work. Therefore, trucking companies may also be held legally liable for New England truck crashes caused by distracted driving. You may take action against the trucking company based solely on the fact that the trucker was negligent while on duty, or based on an argument that the trucking company was unreasonably careless. For example, a trucking company without a policy on employee phone use could be considered legally liable based on the company’s own failures.
An experienced attorney can investigate a truck accident, and if distracted driving is a contributing factor, gather the evidence needed to build a case against the truck driver and other potentially responsible parties.
Startling Distracted Driving Statistics
Key distracted driving findings from the NHTSA include:
- At a typical daylight moment, 9 percent of drivers in the U.S. are using a cell phone (including hands-free phones) and 1.3 percent of drivers are visibly manipulating hand-held devices.
- 48.6 percent of drivers say they answer incoming calls. 58 percent of these drivers continue to talk after answering.
- Young drivers are more likely to answer calls and manipulate hand-held devices.
- One in 4 drivers places calls while driving.
- One in 10 drivers sends text messages or emails while driving.
- 35 percent of those who admit to texting and driving say they continue to drive when sending a message instead of waiting until a stoplight, handing the phone to a passenger or using a voice command feature to send the message.
- 14 percent of NHTSA survey respondents say they read text messages or emails while driving.
Rhode Island Distracted Driving Lawyer Dedicated to Personal, Social, and Economic Justice
An auto collision shakes a person’s life, forcing them to adjust to changes they hadn’t anticipated. A person injured in a car collision may lose months, if not years, of wages, in addition to paying steep medical bills for hospital stays or physical therapy. In addition to these challenges, the insurance companies can be uncooperative and intimidating. Their representatives are trained to limit their losses by paying out as little as possible in settlements.
The Providence car accident lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush have decades of legal experience in personal injury law and helping people who have been injured litigate auto insurance claims. We cannot undo the injuries that you have suffered, but we can make sure that whoever caused the accident is held accountable.
Our attorneys are familiar with the many tactics insurance companies employ to deny you the fair compensation you deserve. Please call our firm today at 855-505-1092 to find out more about how we can help you. We are committed to achieving extraordinary results for each of our clients.