It can happen in an instant. You’re cruising down the freeway, happy as can be. You grab your phone to check a text or a notification. You only take your eyes off the road for a second, but by the time you look up, it’s too late. You crash your car, and if you’re lucky, dealing with insurance companies will be the worst of your consequences.
If you’re thinking that this could never happen to you, think again. Even if you’re smart enough to put your phone away while driving, how can you protect yourself from the other distracted drivers on the road? All you can do is practice defensive driving and be vigilant about reminding loved ones not to look at their phones at the wheel. If you are injured as the result of a crash caused by a distracted driver, hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer will be key.
A Plethora of Distractions: Why Aren’t People Watching the Road?
Statistics show that distracted driving is becoming a huge problem. Ever since cars have existed, there have been people who lacked responsibility on the road. However, there are far more distractions today than there once were. On top of that, people also feel more pressure to engage with these distractions than in previous times.
A March 2019 survey from The Zebra found that 37 percent of participants between the ages of 18 and 34 felt a “high degree of pressure” to respond to work-related notifications while driving. Our society is becoming so fast-paced that people are beginning to expect instantaneous responses to emails, texts, and other forms of communication. While we can certainly resist that temptation and remind the people in our lives that we’re entitled to downtime, many people have trouble speaking up for themselves in this way. Others might be so caught up in the world of social media that they have trouble resisting at all.
Texting while driving is bad enough, but participants of the survey also admitted to watching Youtube videos, browsing social media, or even taking photos of themselves while on the road. Thanks to the creation of smartphones with constant internet access, there are now more distractions than ever before.
Of course, along with all these technological distractions, there are also plenty of others that have always been an issue. Rowdy children, loud music, intense conversations with passengers, and playful pets can all cause a driver to take their attention away from the task at hand.
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A Major Danger: Is Distracted Driving Taking Lives?
Many people have needlessly died because of distracted driving. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), up to 3,177 lives were lost to distracted driving in 2017. Countless more lives were affected due to injury or financial devastation as the result of a wreck.
There has been some debate over whether distracted driving is worse than drunk driving. The truth is that they’re both terrible. If you add in the fact that many drunk drivers are also likely distracted by their phones, the idea of being out on the road seems even more distressing. Both drunk and distracted driving cost society more than $40 billion dollars a year. The fines against drunk driving are much heftier than the fines for distracted driving, and perhaps that’s part of the problem.
A Serious Issue: What is Being Done About Distracted Driving?
Many states have laws against distracted driving. However, they may not be effective enough. For example, in neighboring California, the use of hand-held phones while driving was banned in 2008. Since the ban went into effect, the rate of texting at the wheel has more than doubled. The ban seemed to help at first, but as the demand for constant communication went up in recent years, people seemed to simply stop caring about the risks. Still, it’s likely that without these laws in place, the problem would be far worse.
A total of 21 states have laws that are similar, including our own state of Arizona. Our bill, HB 2318, was signed by Governor Ducey in April of 2019. Much like the California bill, it bans the use of hand-held phones while driving, but there is a “warning period” that will last until 2021, giving local drivers time to get used to the change. Our state laws also ban any cell phone use for novice drivers or those who drive school buses.
A Devastating Scenario: What Should You Do if You’ve Been Injured?
If you’re hurt in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you’ll need to follow a few important steps to ensure the best outcome.
Begin by making sure everyone involved in the accident is safe and away from the road.
Contact the authorities and the necessary emergency medical services.
Make sure to follow through with all appointments and recommendations from your doctor.
Get everything in writing, including medical reports, hospital admission reports, and police reports.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney for help.
You shouldn’t have to suffer as a result of the reckless actions of another driver. A good personal injury lawyer will be your advocate in court, working hard to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Rather than attempting to represent yourself or hassle with insurance companies on your own, reach out to the team at Suzuki Law Offices today.