It’s fairly common knowledge that driving while distracted is a major cause of car accidents in America. Drivers who text, use their smartphone, eat, or look at a GPS system while driving are dangerous. Distracted drivers don’t have their eyes on the road, their mind on responding to traffic emergencies, and can’t physically react safely because their hands or eyes are off the wheel. Drivers who operate their vehicles while distracted should be held accountable for the deaths and injuries they cause.
Carsurance.net provides numerous statistics illustrating the major problems with distracted driving.
- Nearly 1 in 5 car accidents involving teenage drivers who drive while using a cellphone.
- Teens who have a passenger in their car are twice as likely to have a fatal accident as teens who drive without a passenger.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that 660,000 drivers used electronic devices while driving.
- Parents with young children are often distracted behind the wheel.
- It only takes 3 seconds for a car accident to happen after being distracted.
Generally, texting while driving is illegal in Oklahoma. Texting while driving includes composing, sending, or reading a text message. Some exceptions may apply for emergency situations, such as communicating with law enforcement or a hospital.
Unfortunately, texting is not the only way to be distracted by a phone, and Oklahoma does not have any laws on the books that ban cell phone use for all drivers. The fine for violating the statute is 100 dollars, but this fine may not be heavy enough to actually deter anyone from using a phone while driving.
Distracted driving is a major cause of fatalities and injuries
Driving while distracted can result in accidents causing fatalities, brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and many other types of catastrophic injuries. According to the latest data from the NHTSA, 9% of all fatal accidents in 2019 involved a distracted driver, and 3,142 people died across the country in distracted driving accidents.
In Oklahoma in 2020, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), there were 41 reported fatalities related to driver distraction, and 1,069 reported injuries.
When and where do distracted driving accidents occur?
Based on the latest data from the state, most distracted driving crashes occur on city streets (almost 44%) during the week, and the peak time is between 5:00 and 6:00 pm – rush hour. From this data, we can assume a few things:
- Adults are being just as reckless as teens when it comes to unsafe driving behaviors.
- While cellphone use certainly plays a part, there are likely other distractions on the road, like other drivers.
In fact, the data also says that the majority of distraction is not caused by “electronic communication devices,” but by people. OHSO found that 3,353 drivers were distracted by someone else inside their vehicle, and 2,426 drivers were distracted by someone outside their vehicle. In comparison, 1,617 drivers were distracted by electronic devices.
So as it turns out, we’re all distracting each other more than our phones are.
Contributing factors in distracted driving crashes in OK
OSHO reports that the most common contributing factors in distracted driving accidents include:
- Inattention (general) – 59.5%
- Failure to yield – 8.2%
- Tailgating – 5.7%
- Unsafe speeds – 4.6%
- Failure to stop – 4.6%
Can you hold a distracted driver liable for your injuries?
At Cunningham & Mears, our Oklahoma City car accident lawyers work with investigators to determine how an accident occurred. During the discovery phase of your case, we will question the driver who caused the crash, any passengers in the vehicles, and any other witnesses. We also seek to examine any electronic devices that were used immediately prior to the accident. This means we can seek the cell phone records of a driver, or the black box data from a truck, if we believe that a distracted driver caused your accident.
In some cases, we may work with an accident reconstruction expert. This individual helps show a jury (or a team of lawyers for an insurance company) how and why a crash occurred when it is not immediately apparent. They usually testify about factors like the speed of the vehicle, or how close a vehicle must have been when the driver hit the brakes (if the driver hit the brakes). We may also use your medical records or ask an expert medical witness to testify to the extent of your injuries.
We demand compensation for all your damages including your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and damage to your vehicle. In distracted driving cases, we may seek punitive damages to help ensure future distracted driving accidents don’t occur. If a teenage driver caused your injuries, we can file a claim against the parents responsible for any accidents caused by a driver of their car.
Experience matters. At Cunningham & Mears, our Oklahoma City personal injury lawyers have been fighting for accident victims for a combined 105 years. We have a strong record of success settling with the insurance companies (often for the policy limits) or obtaining fair verdicts in court. If you were injured or a loved one was killed due to a distracted driver or for any reason, contact us today in Oklahoma City, or call 405-232-1212 to schedule a free consultation.
Marcus P. Mears is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Mears is committed to helping Oklahoma’s injured victims in the areas of injury law and insurance litigation. Mr. Mears was selected to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for his work as lead counsel in multiple seven figure injury cases. Learn More