According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes annually. Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving under the influence of alcohol is. 1 out of every 4 traffic crashes that occur in the U.S. are caused by cell phone usage.
WHAT IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?
Experts have identified three types of distracted driving: manual, visual and cognitive.
- Manual distractions are caused by using your hands for anything other than steering the car. This includes adjusting the radio, running through a playlist on your phone or looking for your sunglasses.
- Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. Common types of visual distractions include texting, reading billboards or looking at off-road activity or scenery.
- Cognitive distractions take your mind off driving, including: talking on the phone, lack of sleep, or consuming alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medications against medical advice.
CELL PHONES AND DISTRACTED DRIVING
Cell phone use involves all three types of distracted driving. Many drivers don’t realize the dangers of cell phone use. According to the NHTSA, 14% of 2015 distracted driving fatalities involved cell phone use. The University of Utah study found that talking on the phone while driving is as dangerous as driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08%. (This is the legal limit for intoxication in Wisconsin, and many other states.)
Texting while driving increases the risk of a crash, or near-crash, by 23 times. Typically, it takes five seconds to send a text. At 55 mph, this is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed!
DISTRACTED DRIVING IS ILLEGAL
Wisconsin law prohibits any form of distracted driving and has specific penalties for driving while texting or sending emails.
HOW CAN DISTRACTED DRIVING IMPACT YOUR CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Discovering that the other driver was involved in some distracted driving conduct can help prove a car accident was not your fault. Law enforcement is, initially, responsible for investigating an injury crash to determine if the at-fault driver was distracted. This includes searching the car for evidence of distraction or pulling cell phone records.
Whenever possible, the victim (or passenger) should take photos of the scene. These pictures may show evidence of what was distracting the other driver and other valuable information about the injury accident.
A CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY CAN HELP PROVE THE ACCIDENT WAS CAUSED BY DISTRACTED DRIVING
Consider contacting an auto accident attorney immediately after your car accident. A knowledgeable car accident attorney can request that video be preserved from traffic control cameras, police dash-cam and police body-cams. Typically, the request must be made within 2-4 days of the accident, or the video will be taped over. On-scene videos can show evidence of distracted driving that can greatly assist in proving your injury claim.
If a driver’s cell phone records aren’t investigated at the time of a crash, an attorney can subpoena the records.
An attorney can also hire an investigator to conduct a more thorough examination of the crash. For example, the investigator can locate the other party’s vehicle and photograph the interior. Key types of evidence, such as spilled food or used reading material on the front seat, can shed light on what was going on before the crash. These experienced investigators know what to look for and may find items overlooked by victims or law enforcement.