Driving while distracted is one of the leading causes of death and serious injuries for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly nine people are killed EACH DAY and more than 1,000 people are injured each day due to a distracted driver.
Distracted driving involves any activity that takes the driver’s:
- Eyes off the road and the traffic around the driver
- Hands off the wheel which prevents the driver from steering the car out of danger
- Mind off any emergencies that may arise
One of the leading causes of driver distraction is texting while driving. Oklahoma became the 46th state to pass a law banning texting while driving. Oklahoma police and law enforcement can now cite any driver they observe texting while driving. Citations will result in a $100 fine. It is also illegal in Oklahoma for drivers with a commercial driver’s license and for public transit drivers to make a call with a hand-held phone while driving.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation states that, on average, drivers who text while driving don’t have their eyes on the road for five seconds. Drivers who are traveling 55 mph can cross a football field in that time.
Additional types of distracted driving
Drivers are also likely to be distracted if they engage in any of one of the following activities:
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics
- Driving while tired or sleepy
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Driving while using a cell phone
- Driving while watching a video
- Adjusting the radio or musical device while driving
- Looking at other passengers while driving
Liability for distracted driving
Drivers who text while driving will face worse consequences than a fine if they cause a car accident. If someone is killed due to their taking their eyes off the road, the family of the survivors can file a wrongful death action. Wrongful death actions can be brought against a driver who is distracted for any reason – not just texting while driving.
Anyone, including passengers in the car of the distracted driver, can file a personal injury claim against the driver. Distracted drivers can be held accountable for the injured victim’s:
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Medical bills including hospital surgeries, doctor visits, therapy, medications, and medical devices
- Any economic loss due to an inability to work
- Disfigurement and scarring
In addition, drivers who text while drive or deliberately drive while distracted may be liable for punitive damages
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation states that, according to federal statistics, drivers in their 20s cause 27% of the fatal distracted driving accidents. The parents of teenage drivers and younger adult drivers need to understand they may be held accountable if their child uses their car and gets into an accident. As long as the parent’s name is on the title to the car and their child had permission to use the care, then parents can be named as defendants in any car accident lawsuit.
April, the national distracted driving month, is a good time for parents to review and remind their children of the dangers of distracted driving.
At Cunningham & Mears, our car accident attorneys with investigators and other professionals to confirm that a driver was texting while driving, using a cellphone while driving, or was distracted for other reasons. Our Oklahoma City lawyers have the experience and resources to help victims and families get justice. For help with an vehicle accident, please call us at 405.212.9234 or complete our contact form.