While we all have heard about the danger of looking down at your cell phone to text a friend while driving and have been warned about the hazards of looking down to type an address into a GPS or to make a phone call, these are not the only distractions out there facing drivers. Cell-phone and technology distractions are publicized for good reason. USAttorneys.com notes that it can take a driver over 4 seconds to read a text. Yet, technology aren’t the only things distracting drivers these days.
According to the Times-News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration categorizes distractions into three deadly groups: cognitive, visual, and manual. While we often hear about the dangers of visual distractions, fewer people discuss the risk of cognitive and manual distractions that drivers can encounter while on the road.
Regardless of the kind of distraction, the consequences are immense. In 2014, there were 4,781 distracted driving accidents in Idaho alone. This makes up 21% of all accidents. If you’ve been a victim of a distracted driver, you have important rights under the law. Among these is the right to seek compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and pain and suffering from negligent drivers who didn’t pay attention to the road.
Distracted driving is widespread because we can often be lulled into a false sense of security when we get behind the wheel. We drive so often that it can be sometimes easy to forget the real danger of the task at hand. Drivers may also overestimate their abilities, thinking that they can change the radio station or have a heated conversation as long as they are driving straight. Yet, 7 out of 10 distracted driving deaths occurred precisely when drivers were going straight ahead and not performing any complex driving maneuvers.
Some people may also believe that distracted driving is safer on rural highways where there are fewer drivers. Yet, drivers tend to drive faster, and therefore more deadly distracted driving accidents actually happen outside the city.
The cost of these accidents to victims and families is immense. These accidents have cost the citizens of Idaho an estimated $593 million. These costs include medical expenses, loss of productivity, lost time at work, legal fees, and property damage.
Studies have found that the cognitive distractions of making a hands-free call don’t necessarily make these calls safer. Driver distraction can last up to 27 seconds. For a car traveling at 55 miles per hour, the car can move a long way with a distracted driver behind the wheel.
The penalties for distracted driving may not only involve personal injury lawsuits in Boise or Nampa, Idaho. Individuals can face up to 10 years in prison if they are found guilty of vehicular manslaughter charges for distracted driving.
At the end of the day it is everyone’s responsibility to think before they engage in distracted behavior while behind the wheel. This means avoiding heated discussions until after you are safe and off the road. It means avoiding eating and driving. And, it means putting away your cell phone.
If you’ve been involved in a distracted driving accident in Boise, Idaho, the Law Office of Johnson & Lundgreen may be able to assist you and your family. Contact us today to learn more about your rights.