Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on April 26th, 2019,
by Zane Cagle

Many Are Getting Grouchy About Distracted Driving

Posted on April 26th, 2019 by Zane Cagle

Distracted Driving Becoming a Old, Familiar Topic

When most of us think about distracted driving, we think of those drivers who look at their mobile phones while driving. However, distracted driving can be any driving behavior that causes you take your eyes off of the roadway. These behaviors include time fidgeting with the navigational system, eating, drinking and focusing on conversations with others in the vehicle.  You do not literally have to make eye contact with others during the conversation while driving—really, no one thinks you are being rude for not looking at them while you drive!

The major behavior that most drivers find annoying is driving while on your phone. The reason that so many people are fed up with distracted drivers is because most of us have had a near-crash experience or have been in a motor vehicle crash involving someone who wasn’t paying attention. Whether they were texting, posting on social media or taking selfies, many  drivers are just done with other drivers behaving so irresponsibly because the dangers have become an old, familiar topic.

Statistics and Personal Experience Shows Us Distracted Driving is Dangerous

At this point, many are getting very grouchy about those drivers that continue to drive distracted.   We lose patience with distracted drivers because it is not as if they haven’t been informed about how dangerous it is. However, invariably we get caught behind that driver that is on his phone watching a video while he or she is driving. What is that about?  Talk about the definition of distracted driving. Every time I see someone taking a driving “selfie”; I’m amazed as it is literally documenting and publishing to the world that you are engaged in distracted driving.

Just as we know that drunk driving is dangerous, we know that distracted driving can be just as dangerous.  Currently, there is no serious criminal penalties for distracted driving unlike driving while under the influence.  You can get a careless and imprudent ticket for weaving or wondering out of your lane.  If you are driving erratically, it could earn you a sobriety check. If you are in a crash and you were engaged in distracted driving, then you may have some legal problems.  If you injure or kill someone in a crash that is your fault because you were involved in distracted driving, you may be considered liable for the motor vehicle crash. Worse yet, you may have to live with that consequence forever of hurting someone else due to distracted driving.  If you really don’t care about other drivers, you should remember that distracted driving is an easy way to injure or kill yourself.  I find that in reality, most drivers do care about other people and feel horrible when they are at fault for a crash.

Usage times from cell phone carriers can be subpoenaed to see how often you were on the phone before a crash.  It is difficult to argue that while you were constantly on the phone for most of your commute, you coincidentally hung up 30-60 seconds before the crash so you could concentrate. When using your smart phone, make sure you are using the audio only features so that you can focus your eyes and hands on the wheel and road. Ideally, make your calls later and use your eyes, hands and mind all of the time to focus on driving.

Maybe I Just Observe it More Frequently Because I’m Getting Grouchy?

I’ve lost count how many times in the last week, I’ve witnessed someone driving distracted. Maybe I notice it more because I’m becoming an old codger about distracted driving?  I observe drivers missing stop signs, weaving in traffic, and failing to keep up with traffic while looking at their phone. We know that it is literally a matter of time before they hit another car or person.

I thought people had gotten better about disguising their distracted driving! Alas, I was wrong.  How many times have you sat behind another car and waited literally 15 seconds for them to notice the light has changed? Fifteen seconds shouldn’t seem like long, but it is quite a period of time for a driver not to notice a light change. I’m not supporting that you jump the gun on any light, but drivers failing to notice light changes cause rear-end crashes and intersection collisions.   One driver not paying attention to the lights and another driver trying to predict what a distracted driver is going to do is a recipe of disaster. Fifteen seconds, counting 1-Mississippi, 2 Mississippi seems like an eternity sitting at a green light in heavy traffic. Other drivers become angry when they realize a driver is simply not paying attention because it endangers ALL of us!!

Intersection Crashes Occur Frequently When Drivers are Distracted

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017. What makes this statistic even more horrifying is that these crashes are preventable.  Serious injury and loss of life may not seem all that important until You are hit in a distracted driving crash or one of your loved ones has the experience. As a personal injury attorney, I talk to injured motorists daily. It never ceases to amaze and disappoint me how many people are still driving around looking at their phones, distracted. The good thing about human beings is that we can change.

So, just as I’m amazed and disappointed in some drivers’ behaviors, we know that we all have the capacity to change these driving behaviors.

It is not a complicated solution—put your phone down while you are driving.  So many times I’m irritated when my audio directions are not working and I’m inconvenienced to have to pull over to recalibrate my directions using the navigational tools in my vehicle or my cell phone.  It causes you to lose valuable time. I get it!  Like many, I believe I’ve probably cursed at Siri more than once and thankfully, Siri is not a real person.  Being inconvenienced and being hurt are two very different things.  Most likely, you wouldn’t think of texting and driving with your children in the car. However, you might be more tempted to drive distracted when your kids are not in the car or you are in a hurry.  As I spend hours on the phone every day, it is tempting to make up time when I’m commuting. Do not return an email or text while driving—Just do not do it!

Focus on the Road and Protect us All!

I should caution you.  Even if you are on audio-only on a phone call while driving, you may have troubles if you are on the phone when a crash occurs.  Any behaviors you are engaged in while driving will be scrutinized after a crash.  No one plans a crash, thus you should always drive as if your driving is being scrutinized the entire time.  Focus on the road and driving!

When officers respond, they complete “incident reports” rather than “accident reports” for a simple reason. Accidents are “an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause”.  In motor vehicle collisions, there are very few “accidents” because the vast majority of crashes occur due to human error.  You can think of it as the “But For” criteria. John would not have hit the Jeep in the intersection but for he ran the stop sign.  In 99.9% of collisions, there is a cause of the crash therefore there are called “incidents”. When drivers follow the rules of the road and adhere to speed, signs and lanes; incidents are reduced.

Motor vehicle incidents do occur every day, and they are not sheer accidents. Each one has a cause.  When people are hurt, car crashes get a lot more complicated as negotiating with an insurance company is never something you should do on your own.  There are a number of things you should do following a car collision but the most important step is to Get Medical Help. If you are injured, you need legal advice.  If you don’t need an attorney, we are happy to tell you so. Failure to consult an attorney soon after your crash can make a big difference in your claim. We would really rather give you the free information to start your claim out correctly.

Call the attorneys at our firm locally 314.276.1681 or toll free 1.800.685.3302