The term "distracted driving" refers most commonly to when a driver is distracted while operating a vehicle on the road. There are a number of potential distractions, but the most commonly referenced distraction is something everyone has with them at all times: the cell phone.
Distracted driving incidents involving cell phones make up nearly 1.6 million vehicle accidents a year. Of those 1.6 million accidents, over 330,000 of them result in very severe injuries. Statistically, the likelihood of an accident happening increases by 23 times when a driver takes their eyes off the road to look at their phone. Even more alarming is that texting or cell phone use is linked to 21% of fatal accidents involving teenagers. Overall, texting and driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving.
Typically, most states punish distracted driving as a minor traffic offense. These punishments are typically fines, tickets, and points on a persons license. While they may cause an impact financially, the driver is not typically left with any serious consequence. Recently, one state has toughened their stance on the issue. Tennessee has recently passed a bill that levies harsher sanctions on distracted driving.
Tennessee's New Law
The law makes a drastic change from the casual slap on the wrist that most states will impose. Tennessee's new law makes the punishment much more severe. A bill, passed in March, makes the act of using a hand-held cell phone while driving a Class C misdemeanor, which can be punishable with up to 30 days in jail, and a fine up to $50. A conviction under this law also means the driver will have a criminal record. The Tennessee's Highway Patrol expressed their support for the legislation, testifying that they had issued over 7,500 citations for distracted driving and lack of "due care" issues on the road in 2015. With the new law in place, not only is distracted driving an incredibly negligent and careless action, it is now a punishable misdemeanor in the state of Tennessee.
For those who have been harmed by other distracted drivers on the road, this law will come as a relief, and a step forward in curtailing a dangerous practice. The Maryland Vehicle Administration reported that between 2009 and 2013, distracted driving was the cause of over 52,000 vehicle collisions, and was the cause of over 18,000 collisions involving injury. In that same time period, 166 lives were lost due to accidents involving distracted driving. Weekday afternoon / early evening time (the typical home commute for many workers) was the part of the day which saw the highest concentration of distracted driving accidents.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence, don't let your injuries go uncompensated. Contact attorneys Gilman & Bedigian today.