Many people would never think of drinking and driving because they see it as dangerous and something that could put their lives at risk, as well as other drivers and their own family. However, these same people may not think it's a big deal to answer a text while in traffic, map out a detour on the way home, or try to put on makeup in the car because they are running late. Statistics show that distracted driving can be just as deadly as drunk driving. As intoxicated driving continues to decline, distracted driving is on the rise.
Distracted driving involves any kind of activity that takes your eyes, ears, or focus off the road. While some drivers try and read the newspaper on their way to work, eat and drink while driving, or even shave, these days, the majority of distracted drivers are on their mobile devices. This includes talking on the phone, texting, responding to emails, looking up restaurant reviews, mapping the nearest gas station, or trying to take a picture of something on the side of the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 3,000 people died in 2014 in motor vehicle accidents where the driver was distracted, and another 430,000 were injured. Additionally, many distracted driving accidents go unnoticed because it is easier to conceal distracted driving after an accident, unlike driving with alcohol on the breath. Distracted driving shows no signs of slowing down. According to a 2015 State Farm survey, almost 30% of drivers admitted to going on the internet while driving, up from 13% in 2009.
In the documentary From One Second to the Next, filmmaker Werner Herzog looked at the risks and consequences associated with texting and driving. “Accidents have happened at a staggering rate,” said Herzog. “I mean, it's skyrocketing. The statistics are incredible.” The film is available online and has already had over 3 million views.
Distracted Driving in DC
The majority of states and Washington D.C. ban texting while driving. Some lawmakers want to introduce harsher penalties, such as a suspended license after 3 distracted driving convictions. As of October 2016, the fine for distracted driving in DC is only $100. However, first-time offenders may be eligible for a suspended fine if they buy a hands-free device. According to AAA, the District averages 7,000 distracted-driving tickets per year.
Accidents involving distracted drivers can range from slow-speed, minor accidents to multi-vehicle fatal collisions. On an undivided highway, a driver who looks down at their phone for only a couple of seconds can drift over the divider and crash head-on to another vehicle at full speed. These types of accidents only take seconds to occur but can change the lives of the drivers and their families forever.
Any injury accident can lead to expensive medical bills, continuing treatment, surgery, physical therapy, and hospital stays. In addition to expensive medical costs, an injury can cause the driver or passenger to miss days of work, resulting in lost income. The individuals who caused the accident should be held responsible for the damage they've caused. The pain and suffering caused by even a seemingly minor accident should be compensated by the person who caused the injury.
Even minor accidents caused by distracted driving can lead to serious injuries. Accidents involving neck or spinal trauma may not appear serious at first. However, days later, the driver or passenger may feel serious pain or not be able to move. Neck and back injuries can be difficult to treat and difficult to diagnose. A personal injury claim will allow the injured driver to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Distracted drivers may not admit to texting while driving, especially when they know it may make them liable for the injuries they caused. However, your attorney may be able to investigate whether the other driver was texting or accessing the internet by looking at their phone records, social media posts, or email.
Distracted Driver Accident Attorneys in DC
If you were involved in an automobile accident, you may not know if the other driver was distracted at the time. Your attorney will be able to investigate your case and determine if a distracted driver negligently caused your accident. The person responsible should pay for your medical bills and pain and suffering. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident in the DC Metro Area, please contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian. We offer a free consultation and will fight for you, to make sure you are fully compensated for your injuries.