Distracted Driving and its Potentially Devastating Consequences

In 2010, a student at the University of Oklahoma – Mary Beth Davis – was traveling home to Guthrie, OK to visit her parents for the weekend when she suffered a car accident that changed her life.

As Ms. Davis told KFOR, “Distracted driving, took my eyes off the road, overcorrected, went down a steep hill and flipped my truck twice.”

The accident left her with a broken neck and a paralyzed condition. However, despite these disadvantages, she pressed forward, returned to school the following semester, and graduated in the spring of 2011. She also returned to participate in Oklahoma State University’s graduation ceremony, becoming one of the few individuals who use a wheelchair to graduate from the University as a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Distracted driving law in Oklahoma

Most states in the nation have banned the practice of texting while driving at any age. In 2015, Oklahoma became the 46th state to do so with the passage of House Bill 1965, referred to as The Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act of 2015.” The bill honors these two state troopers who were struck by a distracted driver. One of the troopers sustained serious injuries and the other lost his life.

Since the law came into effect in November 2015, 47 OK Stat. § 47-11-901d has made the activity of operating a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic communication device to read, compose, or send a text message with the vehicle in motion an illegal activity. Officers are permitted to pull a driver over for suspicion of texting while driving without the requirement to witness another type of traffic violation performed by the driver.

Types of driving distractions

Distracted driving can occur in three different forms: visual, manual, or mental. A visual distraction (otherwise referred to as an optical distraction) occurs when the driver diverts his or her eyes from the road. This can involve focusing on an activity other than the road ahead, such as looking into the passenger compartment or looking at the screen of a handheld mobile device.

A manual distraction occurs when the driver takes his or her hands off the wheel to touch or reach for another object. This can include adjusting the vehicle’s sound system or other physical task that causes the driver to attempt more than one activity with his or her hands (multitasking).

A mental distraction is particularly dangerous, especially when a driver is fatigued. The mind of the driver may drift to other thoughts and issues to the degree that he or she loses focus on the roadway and the decisions that must be made while driving among other vehicles.

If you have suffered injuries in a car crash due to another driver’s distracted driving, our legal team at Cunningham & Mears can investigate your accident to determine liability and pursue any and all compensation you are owed from the responsible party or parties. To set up a free, no-obligation consultation, call us today at 405.212.9234 or send us a message through our contact form.