Conditions in Eastern Kentucky can be especially tough. Dealing with different grades and elevations in the mountains, winding roads, stretches with few if any lights to guide along on moonless nights, can all combine for a treacherous and sometimes dangerous ride. Just staying safe is sometimes difficult, and often takes complete focus on the task at hand. But distractions can add needless danger.
According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is defined as, “Any activity that diverts attention from driving,” which may include talking or texting on a smart phone, eating, drinking, checking GPS, playing with the stereo, or any one of numerous other activities that can take a person’s eyes from the roadway. The tragedy of a distracted driving accident is that distracted driving is a choice, and in most cases the accident could have been avoided.
“How do I know whether a driver was distracted?”
In some cases, a person injured by a distracted driver will see that the driver was looking at their cellphone. But what happens if you are asked to prove that a driver is distracted?
A driver will sometimes admit that they were looking at their phone or were distracted in some other capacity, but this isn’t usually the case. If there were witnesses to the accident, they might be able to provide key information that will back up your case. A driver’s behavior (swerving, veering into other lanes, crashing into the rear end of another vehicle, etc.) might also indicate distraction.
If you hire a lawyer to handle your case, you won’t need to worry about proving the other driver was distracted. Your attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding your case and provide the evidence needed.
Contact Us For Help
If you have lost a loved one or have suffered a serious injury because of a distracted driver, you deserve to be compensated for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffered. Contact The Johnson Law Firm for the legal help you need. Operating out of offices in Pikeville, Kentucky, the Johnson Law Firm has the experience, knowledge and resources you need to help pursue your claim and will represent you with no out-of-pocket expenses until your claim is settled. For questions or to set up a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 877.712.2910.
“What kind of compensation can I get in a personal injury claim?”
If a distracted driver caused your injuries, you are entitled to take legal action to recover the costs of those injuries. Expenses covered in a claim can include…
- Medical expenses – hospital bills, rehabilitation, prescription medication, etc.
- Property damage
- Loss of past or future income
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life.
In some cases, a jury awards a victim punitive damages, which is compensation intended to punish the negligent party for their behavior.
“Who will pay for the costs of my injury?”
The driver who caused your injuries can be named in a lawsuit, but only after your attorney investigates the accident to be sure that other parties shouldn’t be named, too. In cases where a negligent driver caused another person harm, the driver’s insurance company is often responsible for paying the injured party compensation.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Distracted driving has been devastating across the United States. The biggest contributor has been smart phones, which offer their own list of potential distractions for drivers. Overall, statistics compiled from different sources estimate:
- 3,477 people died as a result of distracted driving.
- AAA estimates distracted driving contributes to 16 percent of all fatal crashes.
- 391,000 were injured in some way in distracted driving crashes.
- NHTSA estimates 660,000 drivers use cell phones daily while driving.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report eight people killed and 1,161 injured each day as a result of distracted driving.
The state of Kentucky has not been exempt from the epidemic. A report from NHTSA states that in the Commonwealth in 2014, distracted driving accounted for:
- 53,500 crashes
- 14,000 injuries
- 169 fatalities
- On the national level, 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes.
Distracted driving has been a growing issue in Kentucky for some time. According to the 2011 Traffic Collision Facts Report by the Kentucky State Police, driver inattention was the No. 1 human factor in car accidents. A distraction was one of the primary reasons for an accident in 5,933 collisions that year, 16 of which involved a fatality. Cell phone use was a contributing factor in 1,040 wrecks, 8 of which were fatal. Of the 1,051 collisions involving pedestrians, almost 3 percent were due to driver distraction. Studies have shown that among the worst of all driver distractions is texting, because it involves manual, visual, and mental distraction. Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, which is equivalent at 55 mph to traveling the length of a football field – and doing it essentially blindfolded.
Distracted Driving Is More Than an Innocent Traffic Violation
It’s important for drivers to understand the seriousness of driving while distracted. While we rightfully have harsh societal judgments toward drunk drivers, we seem to treat distracted driving as more of an annoyance than anything else. But this is the wrong attitude to take toward such a large threat to our safety.
Distracted driving leads to 3,500 deaths and nearly 400,000 injuries every year. As smartphone ownership has doubled from 2011 to 2018, distracted driving has become a bigger danger than ever before. Kentucky’s laws are more lenient than those of other states when it comes to mobile device usage, and while strengthening our laws could improve road safety in our state, we must do our part to discourage this behavior and hold negligent drivers accountable for any harm they cause.
If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, you don’t have to pay for the costs of their negligence. Contact Billy Johnson today to speak to an attorney who will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
While any activity that takes attention away from the road is considered a distraction, some of the most common include:
- Adjusting temperature control knobs
- Changing music or radio stations
- Checking phone messages or email
- Eating or drinking
- Interacting with passengers
- Personal grooming such as applying makeup or shaving
- Reaching for an object
- Reading (even maps)
- Using a cell phone
- Using a navigation system (GPS)
- Watching videos.
Laws regulating passenger car driving behavior vary from state to state. In Kentucky, it is illegal to text while driving. In addition, bus drivers and drivers under the age of 18 are banned from using a cell phone at all — either handheld or hands-free. The specific activities that make up cell phone interaction, such as talking on one, holding one, viewing one, reaching for one, or dialing on one, can delay a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol content at the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Teenagers are disproportionally affected when it comes to distracted driving. Already prone to engaging in risky behaviors, American teens are ignoring the consequences of using their phones to text while driving. Four in ten of recently surveyed teenagers who were of driving age admitted that they had texted or emailed while driving, despite the fact that the bulk of teen deaths result from motor vehicle crashes.
According to AAA Kentucky, the potential penalties of distracted driving in Kentucky may include:
- Suspended driving privileges
- Attorney’s fees
- Court costs
- Insurance rate increases.
Who is most likely to be distracted behind the wheel?
Studies suggest that anyone can be distracted, regardless of their age. However, teens are the age group most likely to be involved in distraction-related fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Anyone that is using a mobile device is clearly not focusing on the task of driving, but it’s important to remember that drivers are distracted in several other ways, too.
Drivers that are carrying an excessive number of passengers, for example, can be distracted by ongoing conversations or excessive noise inside their vehicle. This is one of the reasons that safety advocates suggest that younger drivers shouldn’t take on any extra passengers until they gain experience behind the wheel.
The NHTSA has several recommendations to combat distracted driving
- Teens: Be active and speak up when with a friend engages in distracted driving.
- Parents: Lead by example – never drive distracted.
- Educators and Employers: Teach others about the dangers of distracted driving.
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Billy Johnson and The Johnson Law Firm in Pikeville, Ky., are proud to bring their experience and resources to aggressively pursue your legal needs. For questions or to set up a consultation, contact The Johnson Law Firm online or call us at 606.433.0682.