The Texas Department of Transportation reports that as many as 436 people were killed due to an accident with a distracted driver in 2021. A driver who is traveling at 45 mph and takes their eyes off the road for just a few seconds to read a text or check their phone will end up driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. This behavior is dangerous and has resulted in hundreds of fatalities and thousands of serious injuries not just in Texas but across the country. Auto injury attorneys serving Mesquite at the Oberg Law Office discuss how distracted driving affects Texas motorists and other road users, the legal consequences of distracted driving, and the rights a victim may have to recover compensation after being hurt by a distracted driver.
What Are Some Examples of Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any task that takes a driver’s eyes off the road and attention away from driving, such as manual distractions, visual distractions, and cognitive distractions. Talking on a cell phone, texting, eating or drinking, looking at a map, using a navigation system, adjusting the radio, and applying makeup while the vehicle is in motion are all examples of distracted driving.
Each of these activities, while seemingly harmless, can have serious consequences, as the human brain is not made to handle more than one task at a time – a driver who is operating a moving vehicle cannot effectively maintain their focus on both the task of driving and whatever else they are doing at the same time. Even people who claim to be good at multitasking simply constantly toggle their focus between two or more tasks. However, when you are driving, doing so can have serious consequences.
When a driver takes their eyes off the road, even for just a few seconds, they are unable to respond to changes in traffic conditions and could end up in an accident. Activities such as eating or drinking while driving can lead to a driver’s hands being temporarily off the wheel, reducing their control of the vehicle and creating distractions such as spills inside the cabin.
What Kind of Accidents Are Commonly Caused by Distracted Drivers?
One of the most frequent types of auto accidents caused by distracted driving is rear-end collisions. Rear-end collisions are often caused by a distracted driver who is not paying attention to the road and fails to see that the vehicle in front of them is slowing down or stopping.
Head-on collisions are another type of motor vehicle accident that is usually caused by distracted drivers. These collisions can take place when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide, often because one of the drivers is distracted and ends up drifting into the opposite lane. This type of accident can be catastrophic as both vehicles involved are usually traveling at a high speed. Distracted drivers can also cause single-vehicle accidents, such as running off the road or crashing into an obstacle, such as a utility pole or even a building.
Does Texas Have Any Laws Addressing Distracted Driving?
In Texas, distracted driving is illegal and carries significant penalties. Drivers are prohibited from engaging in any activity that could take their attention away from the task of driving, especially texting while driving, as well as using handheld electronic devices to make calls, listen to music, or watch videos.
Violators can face fines of up to $99 for their first offense, up to $200 for subsequent offenses, and potential license suspension for repeat offenders. In addition, distracted driving can also be considered a Class A misdemeanor if the driver causes an accident that results in serious injuries or death. The law also prohibits minor drivers from using a wireless handheld electronic device during the first six months of having a learner’s permit. In addition, school bus drivers are not allowed to use a smartphone or other electronic device while operating a school bus with passengers on board.
What Should I Do if I Was Hurt in an Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver?
If you were involved in an auto accident in which another driver may have been negligent and caused the crash due to being distracted, that driver may be financially liable for your damages resulting from the accident. However, you would need to prove that their negligent actions were the direct cause of your damages and injuries.
At this point, it is critical that you retain the legal counsel of a skilled car accident attorney for your case. Your attorney can help you investigate the accident and gather evidence to prove that the other driver was distracted and acted with negligence, and can also help you document the extent of your injuries and damages.
Your attorney can help you file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company seeking compensation for your injuries as well as financial losses and emotional distress. In some cases, the insurance company may try to claim that you were also at fault for your accident or may try to offer you a low settlement. Your attorney can help you make the right decisions for your case, handle all the necessary paperwork and negotiation process with the insurance company, and file a lawsuit in court if necessary.
The Oberg Law Office has represented clients who were victims of distracted drivers in Mesquite and across Texas and helped them secure maximum compensation. Their legal team is ready to protect your rights and represent your best interests after a collision with a distracted driver. Contact us today at 972-672-9700 to learn more.