All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care. This not only means following all the traffic laws and avoiding reckless driving maneuvers, but also remaining focused on the task. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Even at moderate speeds, taking your attention away from the road for a few seconds can cause car accidents, resulting in serious harm to yourself and other drivers.
Understanding Driver Distractions
Distracted driving is a broad term used to describe any time drivers become distracted from giving their full attention to the road ahead. There are three major types of distraction:
- Manual distraction. Anything that requires you to remove your hands from the wheel or operating your gearshift is a manual distraction. This can include using a cell phone, eating or drinking, applying cosmetics, adjusting the stereo or music player, fiddling with a GPS system, rummaging through belongings, or anything else that requires your hands.
- Visual distraction. Anything that diverts your eyes from the road and surrounding traffic is a visual distraction. When people slow down to look at an accident or a police officer who has pulled over another driver, they aren’t paying attention to their own vehicles and create a hazard on the road to the drivers around them.
- Cognitive distraction. Cognitive distractions describe anything that takes your mind off the road. Even though your hands and eyes may be devoted to driving, if your mind wanders due to a stressful day at work, typical worries, or even daydreaming, your mind is diverting attention from the sensory input around you, and you may not be able to react in time should road conditions suddenly change.
Any of the types of distraction listed above can cause serious accidents. Text messaging is particularly dangerous, and since the advent of texting, the public has grown increasingly aware of how dangerous texting and driving is for the drivers doing it and the other drivers around them. Texting while driving encompasses all three types of distraction: You use your hand to operate your phone, your mind focuses on the conversation, and you need to look at the screen to read your messages and type a response. Texting is one of the most dangerous activities a driver can perform.
We have become a society glued to our multi-function phones. Nearly everyone now uses the text messaging function—92 percent of us, according to a recent study. The average user sends 111 messages per week. Almost half of those users say they would rather send a text message than speak to someone. Whether you’re sending or receiving, text messaging while driving increases the likelihood of a crash by an estimated 23 times! Texas still doesn’t have a statewide law against texting and driving except for teenagers under 18, learner permit holders within their first six months of driving, or anyone driving in a school zone; but here in Austin it is forbidden and punishable by a $500 fine.
Other Common Driving Distractions include:
- Rubbernecking at police stops or accidents
- Applying makeup, brushing hair, and other forms of personal grooming
- Reading a map or written directions
- Eating and drinking
- Dealing with children and pets
- Programming the GPS
- Changing the radio station or volume, or inserting a CD
- Observing the scenery
- Looking at billboard ads
- Reaching for items on the floor or elsewhere in the car
Know Your Rights in a Distracted Driving Accident
Each year, accidents due to distracted driving kill thousands of people and injure many more. If you suffer injures and damages due to distracted driving, you need to understand your rights and know your options when it comes to securing compensation for your losses. After an accident with a distracted driver, address your medical needs first, and call the police if you are able. The police report of the accident will be a crucial piece of documentation for your case. If the other driver was distracted in some way, he or she should be accountable for the harm caused.
Car accidents can cause serious injuries including broken bones, internal organ damage, burns, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal injuries. Not only can these wounds be severely painful, some have the potential to cause long-term or permanent damage.
If you file a personal injury claim against the other driver, you can sue for damages, including:
• Property damage to your vehicle and possessions damaged in the accident.
• Medical expenses, including hospital bills, EMT services, and the costs of any necessary ongoing treatments, such as prescriptions, physical therapy, subsequent surgeries, and accommodations for permanent disabilities.
• Pain and suffering. Car accident injuries can be seriously painful. Although it seems difficult to quantify pain with a monetary figure, your attorney will consult with experts to determine the level of pain you suffered due to the accident, and the judge will use expert witness testimony to determine an appropriate figure.
• Lost income. Some accidents may render you unable to return to work for a long time, indefinitely in some cases. You can sue for the income you would have reasonably expected to earn had you not been injured. If a permanent disability completely prevents you from returning to work, you can often sue for the future income you would have earned.
Consult a Seasoned Austin Distracted Driving Attorney
If a distracted driver injures you in Texas, get in touch with the Austin personal injury attorney team at Briggle & Polan, PLLC. Request a free consultation and we’ll meet with you to discuss the details of your accident and let you know your options for legal recourse. Call today! 512-472-1926