Distracted Driving Accidents
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Driver distraction is one of the leading causes of preventable auto accidents. In fact, distraction behind the wheel has become such a pervasive problem that it is playing a key role in the increasing number of annual deaths and injuries on American roadways. Although many states have passed laws to address certain forms of distracted driving, motorists continue to fail in upholding their legal obligation of making safe driving their primary task behind the wheel.
At Morici, Figlioli & Associates, our personal injury attorneys have helped numerous victims and families protect their rights after being injured in car accidents caused by the negligent and careless acts of others, including distracted drivers. Driving distracted is a dangerous, negligent, and often unlawful act that places the public at risk of suffering preventable harm.
When distracted drivers do cause motor vehicle collisions, our civil justice system provides victims and families with the right to hold these motorists accountable for their negligence and liable for the damages they cause, including medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering, among others. Our legal team is passionate about guiding clients through personal injury claims and the civil trial process, and we leverage decades of experience to fight for the maximum compensation possible.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs anytime a motorist engages in an activity or behavior other than the act of operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who engage in distractions are engaging in risky multi-tasking that greatly compromises their ability to see their surroundings, appropriately steer a vehicle, and react in collision-critical situations. This is true of any form of distracted driving, including:
- Text messaging and cell phone use
- Eating and drinking
- Personal grooming
- Reading or looking at maps
- Talking to passengers
- Adjusting music or vehicle consoles
All motorists have a legal duty to take reasonable measures that allow them to safely operate a motor vehicle. Because a motorist cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has their full attention, any form of distraction is both dangerous and a breach of their legal duty. As such, these negligent motorists can be held fully accountable when their failures lead to preventable collisions.
Texting & Cell Phone Use
Although all forms of distraction are dangerous behind the wheel, texting and handheld cell phone use create the most alarming hazards. This is because reading and composing a text, or using a phone to place a call, use an application, or send an e-mail diverts multiple forms of a motorist’s attention away from driving. This includes the following:
- Visual attention – Texting or using a cell phone requires a motorist to remove their eyes from the road and direct them onto a small digital screen. To no one’s surprise, taking your eyes off the road is one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel, and it substantially increases crash risks in and of itself. According to Virginia Tech researchers, reading or sending a text for even just 5 seconds while traveling 55 mph is equivalent to driving the distance of an entire football field, blindfolded.
- Manual attention – Having two hands on the wheel is crucial to driving safely and to ensuring that motorists can safely avert potential hazards and collisions. Because texting and cell phone use require the use of your hands, driver’s may remove one or both hands from the wheel, which can not only pose risks on its own, but also exacerbate risks when a driver has also taken their eyes off the road.
- Cognitive focus – In addition to the physical act of looking at a phone and using one’s hands to operate it, text messaging and cell phone use further divert a driver’s mental focus away from driving. When a driver is thinking about the content of a message and a conversation, they create a type of cognitive dissonance that can lead to “inattentional blindness.” This means that drivers have a reduced ability to see their surroundings, including things in plain sight. This is why hands-free cell phone use still creates crash risks, even though a driver can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Remember, hands-free does not mean risk-free.
Because texting and cell phone use are such concerning distractions, Illinois does enforce laws directly targeting these behaviors. These laws include:
- All motorists are prohibited from using a hand-held cell phone behind the wheel.
- All motorists are prohibited from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
Even with laws in place, distraction and preventable accidents still happen when drivers are negligent. This is why victims have the right to seek a recovery of their damages from distracted drivers who cause their injuries, and why it is important to work with experienced lawyers who have the insight and resources to prove a driver was distracted at the time of a crash and that they should be held fully liable for compensation the innocent victims they harmed.
Discuss Your Case During a FREE Consultation
Morici, Figlioli & Associates has a proven record handling negligence cases involving all types of auto accidents, including those involving commercial trucks, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Our legal team is committed to helping the injured and their loved ones fully protect their rights, and to securing the justice and compensation they deserve. If you or someone you love were recently injured in a preventable motor vehicle collision by a distracted driver, we encourage you to reach out to our firm for a FREE consultation.
Call (312) 372-9600 to discuss your potential case.