Distracted driving is one of the most common, yet preventable, causes of car accidents in Delaware and across the United States. Too often, motorists try to multi-task when they are behind the wheel. Whether that involves sending a text to a friend, answering a phone call from a colleague, or setting up the vehicle’s navigation system, all of these actions take the driver’s attention off the road.
Despite the fact that distracted driving continues to cause hundreds of thousands of serious accidents each year, many motorists fail to recognize the dangers of distracted driving. In order to reverse this dangerous trend, it is crucial that motorists understand some of the common causes of distracted driving, the penalties associated with distracted driving accidents, and proactive steps people can take to avoid them. If a motorist is injured in a distracted driving accident, a lawyer can review the details of the case and recommend the best legal course of action.
Operating a motor vehicle is a major responsibility. In addition to following the rules of the road and maintaining a safe driving speed, motorists must pay attention to other drivers in the vicinity and be able to react quickly to unexpected traffic changes and road conditions. If a motorist’s attention is distracted for even a few seconds, the risk of a serious accident increases significantly.
Research indicates that the brain can only process a certain amount of information at one time. When a driver tries to multi-task while driving, it has a negative impact on their reaction time and spatial processing. For example, talking on the phone while driving can cause a motorist to drift out of their lane or miss a turn, which can lead to a serious collision. Any behavior, action, or activity that causes a motorist to take their attention away from the road is considered a distraction. The following are the three main categories of distracted driving:
When it comes to distracted driving, most people think about talking on the phone and texting while driving. Those are certainly two top causes of distracted driving accidents. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that over 25 percent of all car accidents involve cellphones. It is also important for motorists to understand that it only takes approximately five seconds to send or read a text message. If the motorists is travelling at a speed of 55 miles per hour, that is comparable to driving the entire length of a football field.
In addition to talking and texting on the phone, there are a number of other common causes of distracted driving accidents, including the following:
In Delaware and throughout the United States, distracted driving laws are meant to dissuade motorists from texting and talking on the phone or engaging in any other distracted behaviors while driving. It is illegal to text or use a handheld device while driving. There are additional restrictions for newly licensed teenage drivers as well.
In Delaware, if a motorist is caught texting or talking on the phone while driving, they will be fined. The amount of the fine is dependent on whether it is a first, second, third, or a subsequent offense. There are two types of enforcement that police officers can use if a motorist is suspected of distracted driving, including the following:
Delaware follows the primary enforcement, which means that a police officer can stop a motorist if they see the motorist talk or text on the phone while driving, even if the driver is obeying all of the rules of the road and appears to be in control of the vehicle.
Like any other car accident, there are a number of important steps that a motorist should take if they are injured in a distracted driving accident. If the vehicles are in the path of traffic, the motorists should safely move their cars if they are physically able to do so. Once the motorists are out of harm’s way, it is important to call 911 so that dispatch can send police officers and paramedics to the accident scene.
Even if a motorist does not have any obvious injuries, it is crucial that they are examined by the paramedics in order to ensure that there are no underlying injuries. Failing to get medical attention can also work against the person if they plan to file a personal injury claim.
It is also very important for a motorist to collect as much evidence from the accident scene as possible, including photographs of the damage to the vehicle, injuries, skid marks or debris on the road, and any other evidence that may help determine the cause of the accident. If there are witnesses at the scene, ask if they are willing to provide statements, and obtain their contact information.
If a motorist was injured in a car accident and they suspect that the other driver was distracted at the time of the crash, there are a number of ways to prove that a driver was distracted, including the following:
If the victim of a distracted driving accident wishes to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, they must do so within two years of the date of the collision. This deadline also applies to a wrongful death claim if the accident resulted in a fatality. However, with a wrongful death claim, the clock officially starts running on the day of the victim’s death rather than the date that the accident occurred. If the injured victim filed a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, it is highly likely that the case will be dismissed and the claim denied.
Comparative negligence means that more than one party may be held liable for an accident. Delaware is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that if a motorist is partly to blame for an accident, the financial damages they will be eligible to collect will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
In addition, if it is determined that the injured party is more than 50 percent liable, they will not be able to recover any damages from the other driver. It is highly recommended that the injured party discuss their case with an experienced car accident lawyer who can examine the details of the case and protect the victim’s legal rights.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a collision that involved a distracted driver, do not hesitate to contact the dedicated Delaware car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. We will assist you with every phase of the claims process, address all of your questions and concerns, and ensure that your rights are protected. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at (302) 427-9500 or contact us online. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.