Distracted driving has approached alarming levels that some studies indicate is comparable to that of driving while intoxicated. No one can deny the risks when someone drives impaired: slow reaction time, poor judgment, a tendency to speed and ignore traffic laws, and an obliviousness to other motorists and pedestrians. These same characteristics apply to any drivers who are not devoting their full attention to driving safely. Salem is not immune to drivers who fail to devote their entire attention to driving.
What is Distracted Driving?
Any behavior that you take that is not focused on driving may be considered distracted driving. Such behavior may include:
- Eating or drinking
- Inserting a music disc or tuning the car radio
- Talking to other passengers
- Talking on or dialing a cell phone
- Adjusting or reading a GPS device
- Watching a video
Few of us have not had a coffee or beverage while driving, had a bite of food, or conversed with our passengers. In most cases, we continued to keep our eyes on the road or thought we were. However, this very conduct often required us to take our eyes off the road for a second or more and this is all it takes to cause an accident. Take your eyes off the road for even one second at 65 miles per hour and your car will travel 95 feet, more than enough time and distance to leave a lane of traffic, travel through a red light or to rear-end a vehicle.
Since cell phones were introduced, people have used them while driving to talk and now text to friends and family members. You do have to dial a phone before talking or press or slide a function to answer a phone. Texting takes even more attention away from driving. Traffic accident studies have confirmed that thousands of people are killed by distracted driving each year and over 15% of accident-related injuries are linked to cell phone use and other distractions.
Teens and Distracted Driving
New drivers are more prone to accidents while driving from inexperience alone, but throw in cell phone use and the risks to them and to others using the roadways are substantially increased. The Massachusetts distracted driving law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from any use of a cell phone since this group constitutes the largest proportion of distracted drivers, but curiously adults are only prohibited from texting. Truck drivers and bus drivers are totally prohibited from cell phone use since a study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that truckers were 23 times more likely to be in a distracted driving accident from cell phone use than drivers who drove without that distraction.
If a teen was using a cell phone or an adult driver was seen texting, this conduct constitutes per se negligence if an accident occurs since it violates a traffic law.
Compensation in a Distracted Driving Accident
Although teens and young adults may be more accustomed to texting and cell phone use, the risk to any group is comparable. Liability is also the same since a teen driver whose negligent driving conduct caused an accident can be sued like any adult under similar circumstances. You may collect compensation for your injuries based on the nature and extent of your injuries including:
- Medical expenses
- Cost for rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Lose earning capacity
- Emotional trauma including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Pain and suffering
You are not automatically entitled to these damages. As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proving the other driver engaged in careless or negligent conduct (unless it is negligence per se), that the accident caused the injuries that you are alleging, that your injuries prevented you from doing your job and that your pain and suffering is valid and related to the accident. Only an experienced distracted driving lawyer can adequately handle all the issues involved in these cases and present your case for settlement or trial so that you can realize the most compensation your injury deserves.
Retain Attorney Tim Houten
Tim Houten has been representing the interests of Essex County and Salem residents and claimants throughout Massachusetts since 1990 and has been a member of the Massachusetts bar since 1982. His experience in distracted driving accident cases has been instrumental in obtaining the most compensation for his clients in these and other personal injury matters. Call him today if you or a loved one was injured by a distracted driver. All legal fees are on a contingency basis and there are no out-of-pocket costs to you.