As attorneys, we deal with the aftermath of countless accidents, many of which are caused by distracted driving. It’s alarming how this issue has become an epidemic on our roads, and during the Halloween season, the stakes can be even higher. In this article, we’ll shed light on the scary truth about distracted driving and the legal implications that arise when accidents occur due to this dangerous behavior.
The Alarming Statistics
The statistics surrounding distracted driving are nothing short of frightening. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 people in the United States in 2019 alone. That’s over 3,000 lives lost due to an entirely preventable behavior. In addition, the NHTSA estimates 324,000 injuries were caused by distracted driving in 2020.
Common Forms of Distraction
Distracted driving encompasses various activities that divert a driver’s attention from the road. The most prevalent forms of distraction include:
- Texting and Smartphone Use: Texting while driving is perhaps the most dangerous distraction, as it involves visual, manual, and cognitive components. Sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, equivalent to driving the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour without looking.
- Talking on the Phone: Even hands-free phone calls can be distracting, as they divert cognitive focus from driving. Research suggests that using a hands-free device does not significantly reduce the risk of accidents.
- Eating and Drinking: Grabbing a quick snack or sipping a beverage while driving may seem harmless, but it takes away attention and can lead to accidents.
- Adjusting the Radio or GPS: Fiddling with the radio, music playlist, or navigation system can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road momentarily.
- Conversations with Passengers: Engaging in deep or emotional conversations with passengers can be distracting and divert attention from driving.
The Legal Consequences
When accidents occur due to distracted driving, legal consequences can be severe. At Plunkett, Hamilton, Manton & Graves, LLP, we’ve seen firsthand the devastation these accidents can cause in terms of physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial burdens. Here are some of the legal consequences of distracted driving:
- Criminal Penalties: In most jurisdictions, distracted driving is a criminal offense, and offenders can face fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment, especially if their actions result in injury or death.
- Civil Liability: Distracted drivers who cause accidents can be held liable for the injuries and damages inflicted on others. Victims have the legal right to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
- Insurance Implications: Distracted driving accidents can lead to increased insurance premiums, policy cancellations, or difficulty obtaining coverage in the future.
While those who drive while distracted can face serious consequences, it is nothing compared to the pain they can inflict on others due to their negligence. Victims of distracted driving deserve a chance to pursue compensation for the financial, physical and emotional hardships these accidents can cause. If you have been harmed in a distracted driving accident in Georgia, contact the office of Plunkett, Hamilton, Manton & Graves, LLP, in Augusta, GA, to discuss your case in a free legal consultation.
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