Today, the risks of distracted driving are well known to any reasonable motorist. This is due in large part to awareness campaigns, new laws that prohibit certain forms of distraction (including texting and cell phone use), and numerous studies that plainly put risks into perspective:
- Motorists who read or compose text messages while driving are as much as 23x more likely to be involved in a car accident.
- Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause a wreck than drunk driving.
- Cell phone use behind the wheel leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
In a report recently released by the National Safety Council, officials have called attention to a rising trend in roadway deaths across the nation. In fact, 2016 was reported as the deadliest year on American roads since 2007, with over 40,200 deaths. The 14% increase in roadway fatalities from 2016 to 2014 was also the largest two-year increase since 1964.
While the statistics speak to the many potential hazards associated with motor vehicles, officials are pointing to driver distraction as one of the primary forces behind the dramatic escalation in car accidents, injuries, and deaths. In response, the National Safety Council has made a number of regulations to crack down on distracted driving, including tougher laws in all states throughout the country.
The Devastating Toll of Driver Distraction & Victims’ Rights
Unfortunately, motorists don’t always choose to drive responsibly, even if those irresponsible actions are against the law. This is believed to be the case in a recent fatal car accident in Illinois that killed a 29-year-old pregnant mother and her three children. The tragic crash has garnered widespread attention, and is raising further awareness about the profound consequences of distracted driving that can forever alter the lives of victims and families.
According to reports, the July crash was caused by a 25-year old male driver who had run a stop sign. Although charges have not yet been filed, authorities suspect distraction played a role, are conducting investigations into whether the driver was texting at the time. One blog covering the story has gained particular attention for its assertion that it may be time to penalize texting while driving in the same manner as driving under the influence (DUI) in order to avoid similar tragedies.
Based on the number of preventable injuries and deaths caused by texting and cell phone use behind the wheel, it is not unreasonable for suggested solutions to take drastic steps. Many states, including Florida, already have distracted driving laws in place. However, accidents continue to happen. Not only are wrecks still being caused by distracted drivers, they’re also increasing significantly.
While the legislative landscape may prove challenging when efforts are made to create criminal laws that put texting while driving on par with drunk driving, the fact remains that distracted drivers can still be held accountable in our civil justice system. By pursuing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, victims and families have the opportunity to hold negligent motorists liable for damages. As with drunk driving, civil lawsuits over distracted driving accidents are handled separately from criminal matters.
Our legal team at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin knows the devastating toll of driver distraction all too well, having represented seriously injured victims and families who have lost loved ones due to a distracted motorists. As we support efforts to enact tougher driver distraction laws, we also offer our extensive experience and support to help victims protect their right to compensation through civil lawsuits.
If you have questions regarding your rights following a distracted driving accident, contact our firm for a free case evalution.