In 2019, distracted driving claimed more than 3,000 lives across the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These deaths could have been prevented. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and numerous car accidents and fatalities occur each year in Delaware due to distracted driving. A Delaware Office of Highway Safety report shows that drivers under 30 years old, particularly men, are the most prone to distracted driving.
A car accident lawyer can attest to how many people cause needless injuries or fatalities simply because they were not focused on driving. A lawyer can help a victim recover the compensation they are entitled to after an accident with a distracted driver.
What is Distracted Driving?
Anything that takes a driver’s focus off the task at hand is a distraction. Distracted driving behaviors can be broken down into three categories:
- Visual: The driver’s eyes are off the road.
- Manual: This is when the driver’s hands are off the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: A cognitive distraction is when the motorist is not focused on driving.
What are Common Causes of Distracted Driving?
There are many causes of distracted driving, including:
Cellphones: Many traffic accidents involve cellphone use, such as answering, dialing, talking, sending and receiving texts, and following a navigation application. All of these activities are distracting, and every state has laws against cellphone use.
Navigation Systems: Looking down at the navigational device frequently or programming it while driving can quickly cause an accident. Program destinations beforehand or pull over to do so safely. A motorist can also position the navigation device where it is easy to see and use the voice setting to get directions.
Loud Noises: Loud noises can distract the driver from focusing on the road. Children and teenagers, especially, should be encouraged to keep it quiet on the road. Excessive volume on a radio or video can be distracting as well. In addition, emergency vehicle sirens are difficult to hear when it is noisy inside the car.
Reaching for Items: Anything that takes eyes and hands off the road should not be done until safely pulled over. Unwrapping food, reaching for drinks, and even spills can cause unsafe driving. Additionally, many modern cars feature interactive screens for both vehicle information and entertainment. Interacting with these screens while driving is not safe. Adjusting controls while driving can also lead to an accident. Set everything before leaving.
Day Dreaming: Daydreaming or otherwise getting lost in thought can happen quickly, especially on long stretches of highway or when a driver knows a particular route well.
Personal Hygiene: Insurance company and police reports show that some drivers apply makeup, brush their hair, or even shave while driving. All drivers should avoid doing these dangerous actions.
Pets: Drivers can be distracted when a pet runs loose in the car or gets caught in their feet or lap. Motorists should keep pets secured.
Roadside Attractions: Signs, emergency vehicles, car accidents, and many other roadside attractions can take a driver’s attention away from the road ahead.
Fatigue: When a driver is fighting to keep their eyes open, they are dangerously distracted and need to stop driving immediately.
A car accident victim should consult a lawyer to begin the process of collecting compensation for injuries and damages, including lost wages, after a distracted driving collision.
What Laws Apply to Distracted Driving?
Delaware laws prohibit many of the leading causes of distracted driving. In Delaware, drivers cannot read or send text messages or use handheld devices, including cellphones, pagers, games, and laptops. Hands-free cellphone use is permitted. A driver with a learner’s permit cannot use a cellphone of any type, even a hands-free device. School bus drivers cannot use a cellphone of any type, even hands-free, while driving.
Delaware’s distracted driving laws do not apply to:
- Law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and operators of authorized emergency vehicles when performing their official duties.
- Drivers who use a device to report an accident, road hazard, a crime, or a medical or hazardous materials emergency.
- Drivers who are operating an unregistered farm tractor, truck, or other equipment.
It is important to note that drivers can touch their cellphones to activate or deactivate hands-free equipment.
What are Distracted Driving Penalties in Delaware?
Delaware uses primary enforcement of distracted driving laws. This means that authorities can pull drivers over if they see them violating state distracted driving laws, including using cellphones. Currently, Delaware fines for distracted driving include $100 for the first offense, and $200 to $300 for the second and future offenses. At present, distracted driving offenses in Delaware do not add points to a person’s driver’s license or end up on their driving record.
It is important to remember that many acts of distracted driving end up also being moving violations. While a person may not be cited for distracted driving, that does not mean they cannot be charged with another driving-related offense. After a distracted driving accident, a victim should consult with a lawyer for recourse.
Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Victims of Distracted Driving
When you are injured or a loved one is killed due to a distracted driver’s negligence, you have the right to be compensated for damages. A Wilmington car accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow can help a victim of a distracted driving collision. Call us at (302) 427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.