Accidents involving distracted driving are on a tragic upswing. In the mid-1990s, distracted driving mainly involved eating, grooming, talking, reading maps and adjusting the radio. Now, drivers use cell phones, navigation systems and media players. Some even watch videos and surf the web. Distracted driving accidents, including injuries and fatalities, have public health and safety officials concerned about the rampant use of in-car technology and smartphones.
Distracted Driving By the Numbers
Distracted driving is a widespread problem. Teen drivers who lack experience are often blamed for using phones and being inattentive, but even experienced drivers can cause accidents when they turn their attention to navigation systems, distracting passengers and various computer displays. Here are a few statistics that illustrate the effects of distracted driving.
- Between 2011 and 2012, injuries caused by distracted driving increased by 9 percent.
- Annually, driver-level distraction causes some 420,000 injury accidents.
- More than 3,000 people die in distracted driving accidents each year.
- About 10 percent of annual fatalities are caused by driver-level distraction.
- In Georgia, drivers who fail to maintain their lane cause 65 percent of fatal crashes.
In April 2015, the Georgia Department of Transportation said that deaths in the first quarter of the year had increased by 25 percent compared to 2014. At that time, the state was on track to exceed 1,200 deaths, which would have reversed nine years of improved safety. By the end of 2015, 1,414 individuals died on state roads. This number represents a 21 percent increase from 2014 with 244 more deaths.
One-car accidents represent nearly half of all fatalities. There have also been a number of tragic multi-vehicle crashes. One such accident took the lives of five nursing students who were traveling on I-16 near Savannah. Months after the victims’ families filed a wrongful death lawsuit, the truck driver admitted to sending texts.
Preventing Distracted Driving
In response to the epidemic of distracted driving, Georgia launched the DriveAlert ArriveAlive campaign, which aims to educate drivers and increase public awareness. The DOT encourages residents to take the safe-driving pledge. There are also resources for increasing safe driving habits among teens.
Georgia has several laws limiting cell phone use, but they aren’t preventing accidents. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that restrictions are rarely enforced. Since 2010, all drivers have been prohibited from texting. Furthermore, it is illegal for bus drivers and drivers who are under 18 to use cell phones, including hands-free options.
Distracted Driving Lawsuits
Because accident reports don’t always say whether a driver was using a cell phone, studies suggest that numbers are underestimated. The AAA Foundation found that distracted driving contributes to 16 percent of fatal crashes. Proving that the at-fault driver was distracted is a key part of building a successful personal injury case. The following are useful pieces of evidence in any car accident and distracted-driving case.
- Phone records
- Police reports
- Accident reconstruction
- Witness statements
- Admissions of guilt
Experienced personal injury attorneys will also find out if the driver had a valid license or had previous tickets for driving violations. Investigations of distracted driving accidents can be quite complex. For example, prosecutors and personal injury attorneys spent 11 months going over evidence related to the fatal multi-car accident that was allegedly caused by Caitlyn Jenner sending text messages. After reviewing cell phone records, pictures of Jenner holding an object near the window of her SUV and documents from the lengthy investigation, attorneys weren’t able to find definitive proof that Jenner was responsible.
It takes diligence to gather evidence in a distracted driving lawsuit. Our experienced lawyers have effective strategies for handling car accident claims, gathering evidence concerning the driver’s cell phone use and using the intricacies of relevant laws to achieve justice for injury victims.
If you were injured by a distracted driver or if you know someone who was, call The Mabrey Firm to request a free consultation. We will discuss your case and tell you the best way to proceed.