It is no secret to anyone who uses a cell phone to text or read messages how focused you can be on that activity alone. Sit on a bus or in a coffee shop and you will likely see that over many people are ignoring their environment while scrolling through emails and text messages or sending them. Now transfer that to the act of driving.
Distracted driving, which encompasses any activity that turns a driver’s attention away from the act of driving, commonly refers to cell phone use and especially texting. When you text, you are taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off of driving. Should you engage in any of these acts, you are substantially increasing your risk of causing a distracted driving car accident. And breaking the law!
Distracted Driving Car Accidents are Increasing
Despite clear warnings and a Massachusetts state law that prohibits drivers from sending or reading electronic messages or using any app on a cell phone even when stopped in traffic, distracted driving accidents plague our state. From 2015 to 2016, Massachusetts experienced an increase in motor vehicle fatalities by 13%, almost double the national average. At least some of this increase can be directly attributed to distracted driving.
No one has a definitive answer as to why we seem to love our cell phones so much more than other states when it comes to using them while driving. Pedestrians are no less vulnerable since pedestrian fatalities in our state went up by 8% in 2015.
The National Safety Council estimates that 1.6 million car crashes occur annually as a result of cell phone use. Although drunk driving is still a huge factor in traffic deaths, you are 6 times more likely to cause or be in a distracted driving car accident while texting than if driving drunk.
Distracted driving among teen drivers is a national problem given their inexperience but it is also likely due to the social aspects of social media that encourages teens to instantly record their status or to stream their adventures whenever possible through Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube and others.
Although 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the risks, 35% have admitted to texting and driving. About 21% of fatal accidents involving a teenage driver are attributed to cell phone use. Teen drivers with one passenger doubles the risk of an accident while 2 passengers increases it 5 times.
Our Campaign to Increase Awareness
The Law Offices of Neil Burns has encouraged people to put down their smartphones when driving. We started an awareness campaign that included an essay writing contest on distracted driving and awarded a scholarship for the winner. The essayists were asked to write about a distracted driving experience involving themselves or close family member; about an awareness campaign that the writer organized about distracted driving; and a message to young drivers about the dangers of texting and driving. Some of the essays are heartbreaking but also show that most of us have a strong capacity for healing and recovery and a desire to get others to put down their cell phones and to concentrate solely on driving.
Our office handles car accident injury claims, many of which are based on motorists who cause accidents due to distracted driving. We see the losses all the time. It is our goal to see fewer fatalities and catastrophic injuries since the toll it takes on lives and families is so devastating.
Damages in a Distracted Driving Car Accident
A motorist who is texting or reading messages while driving, grooming, eating, looking for something in the car or even talking to passengers is engaged in distracted behavior. All motorists have a duty to use exercise reasonable care and to maintain a lookout for hazards in the roadway. Drivers who take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and attention off of driving are negligent and are liable for injuries caused by their negligent behavior.
Damages in a distracted driving car accident may include:
- Past and future income loss
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement
- Diminished enjoyment of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Call the Law Office of Neil Burns if you or a loved one was injured in a car accident. With over 30 years of experience in representing the interests of the injured throughout the state, Mr. Burns will ensure you get the representation your case deserves and the compensation to which you are entitled. To get started call our office at: (617) 227-7423.