April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC), the purpose of Distracted Driving Awareness Month is to bring the risks of talking on the phone, texting, and engaging in other non-driving-related activities behind the wheel into the spotlight.
As the NHTSA explains:
“In 2019, distracted driving killed 3,142 people – a 10% increase from 2018. . . . April, which is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, is a good time to regroup and take responsibility for the choices we make when we’re on the road.”
The Dangers of Driving While Distracted are Very Real
In addition to fatal accidents, the NSC reports that, “[o]n a typical day, more than 700 people are . . . injured in distracted driving crashes.” This amounts to well over a quarter-million distraction-related crashes in the United States each year. Over the five years from 2015 to 2019, there were more than 30,000 distraction-related accidents in Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Texting While Driving is Among the Most Dangerous (and Most Common) Forms of Distracted Driving
While all distracted driving types are dangerous, the NHTSA and NSC both identify texting behind the wheel as one of the most dangerous driver behaviors. The NSC breaks driving distractions down into three categories—cognitive, visual, and manual—and texting while driving involves all three forms of distraction:
- Cognitive Distraction – A cognitive distraction takes a driver’s mind off of the road and his or her surroundings. When drivers are not paying attention to the task at hand, their reaction times are delayed, and they are far more likely to overlook risks that can lead to collisions.
- Visual Distraction – A visual distraction takes a driver’s eyes off of the road. At highway speeds and in heavy traffic, even a one or two-second visual distraction can be enough to create a dangerous scenario.
- Manual Distraction – A manual distraction takes a driver’s hands off of the wheel. When a driver is texting using a handheld cell phone, that driver is incapable of performing an emergency maneuver if necessary.
According to data from the NHTSA, sending or reading a text message takes an average of about five seconds. “At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
Of course, texting behind the wheel is far from the only type of distracted driving that leads to severe and fatal accidents. Other common factors in distraction-related collisions include:
- Talking on the phone (both handheld and hands-free)
- Sending and reading emails
- Scrolling or posting on social media
- Watching videos or reading the news
- Following GPS directions
- Eating, drinking, and smoking
- Personal grooming
- Interacting with passengers
- Interacting with other drivers
- Reading signs, looking at accidents (rubbernecking), and other out-of-vehicle distractions.
Getting Involved in Distracted Driving Awareness Month
If you are interested in getting involved in Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the NHTSA and NSC are making several available resources to the public. The NSC has published a weekly calendar with suggested activities, and it is also encouraging people to take its Just Drive pledge. Both organizations also encourage people to use the #JustDrive hashtag to spread the word about safe driving during April.
What Are Your Rights After a Car, Truck, or SUV Accident Involving a Distracted Driver in Connecticut?
If you are involved in an accident involving a distracted driver, or if a loved one is tragically killed in a distracted driving accident, what are your legal rights? In Connecticut, accident victims and their families have the right to seek total compensation for their accident-related losses. This includes financial losses such as medical bills and lost earnings, but pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other non-financial losses.
To protect your legal rights after a distracted driving accident in Connecticut, here are some steps you should try to take as soon as possible:
1. Report the Accident
If you have not done so already, you should report the accident to the local police. You should also report the accident to your insurance company. Even if you are entitled to compensation under the distracted driver’s policy, you still need to notify your insurance company of the collision.
2. Seek Medical Care
After an auto accident, seeking medical care is extremely important. You should see a doctor as soon as possible, and you should make sure you clearly understand your doctor’s diagnosis and treatment recommendations. If you have concerns about your care quality, seek a second opinion—do not simply ignore your doctor’s advice.
3. Take Notes
It would be best if you also took notes about the accident. What makes you believe the other driver was distracted? What did the other driver say or do after the crash? Did he or she talk to the responding officer? What else can you remember about the crash or its aftermath? These are all critical questions that will be relevant to your claim for financial compensation.
4. Take Photos
In addition to taking notes, it is a good idea to take lots of photos as well. Use pictures to document everything you can—from your vehicle’s damage to your physical injuries. Once your car gets repaired (or taken to salvage), and once your wounds begin to heal, it could become more challenging to prove your legal rights.
5. Talk to a Lawyer
After being injured or losing a loved one in a distracted driving accident, you should talk to a lawyer right away. An experienced Connecticut lawyer will be able to investigate the accident, collect critical evidence, and help prove your claim for damages.
Contact the Connecticut Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers at Berkowitz Hanna
Do you have questions about your legal rights following a distracted driving accident in Connecticut? If so, we encourage you to speak with one of our lawyers as soon as possible. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call 203-447-0000 or contact us online today.