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Distracted Driving: The Consequences of the Prevalence of Smartphones

Fatal interstate collisions are on the rise…

While collisions on the interstate have tended to be among the most devasting, they have historically been outnumbered by vehicular accidents in residential neighborhoods, parking lots, and urban & suburban roads. Recently, however, accidents, especially fatal accidents, are on a steep rise on highways. The 46,000 deaths on American Highways accounts for a 22% increase from the previous year. And there may be a reason for this increase: In recent data compiled by the National Distracted Driving Coalition, 77 percent of respondents admitted to using their phone while driving.

What is a distracted driver?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This can include activities such as texting, using a smartphone, eating, drinking, or adjusting the radio or GPS. While all these activities can be distracting, texting is considered one of the most dangerous because it requires both visual and manual attention, taking a driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.

How distracted are drivers?

With the increase in smartphone usage throughout society it has become clear that people are using smartphones for numerous reasons while driving. The most prevalent usage of smartphones while driving is using one of the various maps or GPS applications that are accessible on a smartphone. According to a survey conducted by the Travelers Insurance Company, 74% of drivers have used cellphone maps while driving. Additionally, 56% of drivers have admitted to reading texts or emails while driving.

One thing that is fueling the usage of smartphones while driving is the false sense of security provided by modern safety features such as lane departure warning and collision avoidance systems. While these features are very helpful to drivers on the road, they do not replace the need for a driver’s full attention throughout their time behind the wheel. In fact, studies have shown that drivers with these features are more likely to engage in distracted driving.

What can be done to reduce distracted driving?

One approach is to utilize technology to prevent distracted driving. Some smartphone apps can detect when a driver is in motion and block incoming calls and notifications while driving. In-vehicle technology can also be used to detect distracted driving behaviors and alert the driver to refocus on the road.

While technology can be used to help with this issue, the implementation and use of the technology by individual drivers is still a hurdle to clear. Just because the technology is available does not mean that it will be utilized by drivers in mass.

What are the legal consequences of distracted driving?

In Colorado, one of the consequences of using your phone while driving is to be potentially charged with careless driving. According to CRS 42-4-1402, “A person who drives a motor vehicle, bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, electric scooter, or low-power scooter in a careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances, is guilty of careless driving.”

Additionally, being cited for careless driving that has caused an accident on the roadways will open the careless driver up for liability in a civil suit in addition to the careless driving citation. If you are the victim of an accident caused by a person who was distracted while driving it is important that you seek appropriate medical care and assess whether you would like to pursue a civil claim against the careless/distracted driver. In many cases McDivitt handles, our attorneys investigate whether or not the person who caused the crash that injured our client had been using their cell phone at the time of the collision.

What if I am hit by a distracted driver?

It will not always be possible to prove another driver was distracted while driving. There may not be sufficient evidence, either in the form of photos or videos captured from a camera, or from admission of guilt from the driver, or eyewitness testimonial. However, when concrete evidence is available verifying another driver was distracted, this can help strengthen your case and prove the other party negligent. Consult with an experienced Colorado car accident attorney to best determine what your legal options are.

The important thing is to remain vigilant on the road and practice defensive driving. Stay focused, turn off or silence devices, and minimize anything that may comprise your ability to pay attention. Be prepared for the unexpected while on the road.

If you do choose to pursue a civil action the attorneys at McDivitt Law Firm are experienced in handling all types of car accident cases and will be able to assist you in the event that you need legal representation after an accident.

Learn more about auto accidents.

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