Distracted driving involves any activity that causes a driver to take his/her hands off the steering wheel, eyes off the road, and mind off of traffic. In just the one second a driver is using a smartphone, adjusting the radio, or eating a sandwich, a car can travel nearly the length of a football field. That’s enough time and distance for a car to rear-end another car, run through a red light, or veer into the lane of oncoming vehicles.
Consumer Reports conducted a national survey about driving and uncovered the following about distracted driving habits:
- Some distractions are more common than others. The most serious distractions from high to low are using hands to send a text message (41%), using hands to play music on a smartphone (37%), using hands to access the internet or access email (20%), and watching videos while driving (8%).
- Some drivers are more distracted than others. Men are more likely to be distracted than women. “Millennials (18 to 36) and Gen Xers (37 to 52) were more likely than baby boomers to engage in distracting behavior.”
- Not everyone thinks texting should be banned all the time. Most people (88%) are in favor of a state texting ban, but many drivers find texting accepting in certain situations:
- 61% of those surveyed said that texting is only okay if the driver has a hands-free, voice-activated option.
- 34% said texting was okay if there was an emergency.
- 24% said texting was never acceptable.
How can Charlotte drivers reduce distractions in their vehicles?
The director of operations at Consumer Report’s Auto Test Center suggests that drivers consider the following steps before and during driving to reduce the risk of being involved in a car accident:
- Place your phone out of reach and out of sight so you’re not tempted to use it. Any navigation apps should be mounted to the dashboard so your hands can be on the steering wheel at all times.
- Use an in-car system that offers voice commands for paired phones so your hands are free.
- Remove your earbuds. Don’t use earbuds to listen to music or to answer calls while you’re driving.
- If you absolutely need to answer phone calls, then consider an in-car Bluetooth system to keep your hands-free.
Of course, we cannot control the actions of others, which means we should be on the lookout for erratic behaviors by other drivers. If you see erratic drivers, let them pass or get as far away as possible. Some of the signs of erratic driving that might suggest someone is distracted include:
- Vehicles veering from side-to-side in a lane
- Vehicles drifting into other lanes without warning
- Cars that are slow to accelerate at a traffic light or slow down/speed up without any reason
- Drivers who appear to be angry or aggressive, and exhibiting signs of “road rage”
- Drivers who keep turning around or ducking down
High-tech solutions to distracted driving
New technologies are being developed to mitigate distracted driving dangers. Some vehicles have optional safety features such as automatic braking systems and lane-assist technology. Smartphone manufacturers and other companies have apps and services that prevent teenagers (and adults) from using a phone while driving, although, for now, the teen or adult has to opt-in.
Consumer Reports adds:
Small tech companies offer apps that can block text messages, email, social media sites, and even phone calls while drivers are underway…Major wireless providers such as AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon also offer apps that can block text messages…Smartphone manufacturers are also using technology to address the problem. Samsung has an app called In-Traffic Reply that sends preset responses to messages received while the user is in motion.
Advocates of autonomous vehicles claim that these vehicles will help reduce distracted-driving accidents because computers don’t get distracted.
Who is liable for a distracted driving accident in Charlotte?
Most distracted driving injury cases focus on showing that the at-fault driver was negligent. Teens are among those age-groups that cause the most distracted driving accidents. Our experienced distracted driving lawyers file negligence claims against:
- The distracted driver.
- The owners (such as parents) of the cars driven by distracted drivers (such as teenagers).
- Third parties like Uber or Lyft.
We regularly examine the phones a driver was using if there is a reasonable suspicion that a driver operated their vehicle while distracted. We examine the cars involved in the accident as well as the accident site. We also examine everything in the distracted driver’s vehicle to gather information about the driver’s activities before the crash.
Distracted drivers may be required to pay punitive damages because the dangers of texting while driving or talking while driving are becoming well-known.
In some cases, a product liability claim may be possible. Consumer Reports reported that several distracted driving lawsuits were filed against Apple on the basis that Apple failed to develop software that would “lock out” or prevent smartphone operation while the user was driving. As of 2017, however, the Apple lawsuits have not been successful.
Still, as more and more distracted driving accidents happen due to smartphone use, the courts and legislatures may begin to hold car and software manufacturers liable for distracted driving accidents.
There is no excuse for distracted driving. Drivers can easily get off the road or wait to talk, eat, or plan their trip. At Price, Petho & Associates, our Charlotte car accident lawyers have been fighting for personal injury victims since 1979. We demand compensation for all your damages, including medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and scarring and disfigurement. We represent families when a loved one tragically dies due to distracted driving.
When car accidents of any type happen, use our contact form to schedule a free consultation of your case or call us at 704-372-2160. We maintain offices in Charlotte, Rutherfordton, and Rockingham for your convenience.