Hardy, Wolf & Downing would like to spread the word about the National Safety Council’s annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month, held in April. The NSC hopes to draw attention to the role that cell phones play in thousands of deadly car crashes and encourage people to put safety first.
To make it easy to share its message – Take Back Your Drive – the NSC website offers resources such as free posters, infographics, and tip sheets that can be downloaded or shared online. In an effort to motivate drivers to take action, the NSC has also sponsored a pledge to drive cell free. The pledge can be signed and shared on social media.
Cell phones distract driving in multiple ways
Distracted driving occurs whenever something or someone takes the driver’s attention away from driving. This includes talking or texting on a cell phone, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio or gps, or grooming. In 2014, more than 3,000 people were killed because of distracted driving. Twelve of those were in Maine. Another 431,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents.
Texting receives the most attention as a distraction because it so obviously takes the driver’s attention away from the road. Studies show that when a driver is texting, his eyes are off the road for five seconds – enough to cover the length of a football field when traveling at 55 mph. This behavior is far from rare, with one survey finding that one-third of drivers admitted to texting while driving. In the same survey, another three-quarters said that they have seen others text while driving.
It is not only texting that leads to phone-related crashes though. As the NSC campaign stresses, using a cellphone to talk, even with a hands-free device, significantly increases the risk of a crash.
Next generation of drivers even more distracted
Distracted driving has become a serious hazard as cell phones have become universal. By 2014, 80% of drivers owned a smartphone. The problem will, unfortunately, likely grow as a crop of new teen drivers who have literally grown up with cell phones takes to the roads. Ten percent of all teen drivers who were involved in fatal crashes reported that they were distracted at the time.
The problem of distraction by cellphone is so great that more than half of all adult cellphone drivers admit to being involved in a distracted walking encounter. This has contributed to a rise in pedestrian deaths in recent years even as overall traffic deaths have declined.
Recourse for injuries caused by distracted drivers
Many states have specifically enacted laws that make driving while using a cell phone illegal. Other states, like Maine, instead rely on more general laws against driving while distracted or texting while driving.
When someone injures another while violating a safety law designed to protect that harm, it can constitute negligence per se and may entitle the victim to compensation.
If your or someone you love has been injured by a distracted driver, contact the Maine accident lawyers at Hardy, Wolf and Downing. We are committed to providing personal attention while fighting aggressively for your rights.
To discuss your legal options during a free consultation, call 1-800-INJURED.