When somebody is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, their primary focus should be on driving. A person becomes distracted while driving whenever they engage in any activity that takes their attention off the road.
- the use of a cellular device,
- using a navigation system,
- eating or drinking,
- changing music or radio channels
- any other activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the responsibilities involved in operating a motor vehicle
When drivers become distracted, they endanger themselves, the occupants of their vehicle, other drivers and their passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
There’s nothing unusual about distracted driving accidents on the roads around Alabama’s southern coast. It is a common occurrence everywhere. In Mobile, Baldwin, and Escambia Counties between 2010 and 2014* there were over 2900 accidents which involved distracted driving, 65% of which also involved distractions within the vehicle such as an electronic device or a passenger. In addition over 100 of these accidents led to a fatality or a serious injury.
Using cellular devices is among the major sources of driving distractions in the country. National Occupant Protection Use Surveys estimate that at any given moment, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices. As per the National Safety Council, texting while driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. That’s riskier than driving drunk.
When you’re using a cellular device, you’re interfering with the visual, cognitive and manual sensory skills that you need to use to drive a vehicle. In its most recent published statistics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that 3,154 people were killed in accidents involving distracted driving in 2013. Another 424,000 were injured.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 9 people every day are killed, and more than 1,150 others are injured every day in distracted driving accidents. Over 1,400 of those crashes are believed to have occurred in Alabama last year.
Alabama already has a distracted driving statute that prohibits texting by all drivers. It also bans handheld and hands-free phone use by novice drivers. The legislature defines a novice as a person 16 to 17 years old who is driving on an intermediate license for less than six months. What Alabama doesn’t prohibit is other forms of distracted driving though. As recently as April of 2015, a bill seeking to expand distracted driving to other behavior was rejected by the state’s House of Representatives.
Amongst other activities, it would have applied to reading, writing, personal grooming, attending to pets or “other activity that prevents a driver from devoting necessary attention to driving.” Although the “other activity” might be overly broad and dependent upon a police officer’s subjective opinion, what comes to issue is that is exactly the type of behavior that distracted driving lawsuits are about.
The activities that the legislature permits are what the common law calls negligence. When that negligence results in damages to someone else, civil liability can come into play, and the injured person can recover compensation for their damages.
An attorney’s experience in handling serious personal injury lawsuits is critical when you’re selecting who will represent you. So is their expertise in proving that another driver’s negligent behavior behind the wheel, caused your serious injury.
Noel B. Leonard is a Foley injury lawyer who represents victims injured during an Alabama automotive accident most often due to another driver’s negligence, including distracted driving. Noel represents accident victims and personal injury claims for individuals in Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia Counties.
Contact Noel B. Leonard or call 251-732-2701 to schedule a consultation if you’ve been seriously injured by another driver’s negligence and need an Alabama auto accident attorney.
*Accident Data procured from The CARE Project – Center for Advanced Public Safety, The University of Alabama, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, All Law http://caps.ua.edu/