For those of us who have been driving for years and years, we’ve become quite comfortable behind the wheel. We know our own cars and how they react, how quickly they stop, how much room we need to maneuver them. While this second-nature ease allows us to control our vehicles every day, it can also lead to a sense of false security and immunity — and that can be dangerous. No matter how good someone is at driving, the one thing no one should ever be behind the wheel is distracted. Cars of any size can be deadly if not handled properly and with the right amount of caution.
When someone drives without paying full attention to the road in front of them, they endanger not only their own life, but also the lives of every driver around them. If you happen to be one of those unfortunate, innocent drivers, you could end up paying the ultimate price for someone else’s negligence, or at the very least, end up severely injured. The countless awareness campaigns we see in the media are not lying; that text is never worth it.
Now, let’s take a look at those five reasons why and how distracted driving poses such a danger to every motorist on the road:
- The awareness campaigns are not lying: distracted driving kills. In fact, it kills about 3,000 people a year, according to the CDC.
- Teens ages 15 to 20 years old are likelier to engage in distracted driving, and therefore likelier to be involved in a deadly car accident due to one. Remember, your children follow your example.
- Most of the people injured or killed in these accidents are not in the distracted driver’s vehicle. In fact, the CDC notes one in five of victims in distracted driving collisions aren’t in a vehicle at all, but rather are either pedestrians or cyclists. Negligent drivers are likelier to ruin the innocent lives of those around them rather than their own.
- Distracted drivers could face serious legal and financial trouble in the event that they injure or kill someone else. Victims of distracted driving accidents can pursue negligent and reckless drivers for their damages. All they need is a strong Oklahoma City personal injury attorney on their side to help hold the at-fault party accountable.
- Distracted driving is illegal. Cops can and will issue citations with hefty fines if they see someone driving in any sort of distracted, reckless fashion. Here in Oklahoma specifically, getting caught texting and driving can get you a $100 fine.
Because victims of distracted drivers are most often not the drivers themselves, the scariest thing about this practice is it is up to the individual to make good decisions. No matter how cautious and careful you are when you drive, a complete stranger making the wrong choice can impact the rest of your life — if it doesn’t end it. If a driver is too distracted to notice an imminent collision, they may be too distracted to slow down or stop in time before hitting you or your vehicle at high speeds, and this can cause incredibly severe injuries like traumatic brain damage, spinal cord injury, broken bones, and more. Not only can any of these take you out of work for weeks — or even months — at a time, the more severe of them may negatively affect you for the rest of your life.
Understanding distracted driving
We can hear about not paying attention until the cows come home, but there are plenty of people who take their focus off the road without even meaning to. Negligence, by nature, happens when someone neglects to do something — and this is often out of pure ignorance rather than malice. That’s why full information and research is so important, beyond simply slogans and snappy tweets.
There are three categories of distracted driving everyone should be aware of when behind the wheel.
- Visual distractions, which is doing anything that takes your eyes off the roads, is incredibly common because it includes everything from changing your radio station, to texting, to simply looking at your conversation partner/other passengers too often.
- Manual distractions, as one may guess, refers to any time you take your hands off the wheel to do something. Even one hand off the wheel for the purpose, for example, of digging in your glove compartment is a distraction.
- The final category, cognitive distractions, can be the hardest to pinpoint. If you are driving for a long time, especially if the road is long and straight with relatively little traffic, you may simply…space out. Getting lost in the streetlights or too into your music or merely “hypnotized” by the road can distract someone to the point of deadly error. Not only is this incredibly hard to prove in court, it can also be hard to recognize while someone is in the midst of it.
The accident cannot be undone, and neither can your injuries. However, making the choice to legally pursue the negligent driver that caused your trauma with an experienced, tenacious car accident attorney can mean your finances don’t have to suffer as you do. No victim should have to shoulder the costly burden of every medical expense and accommodation they need because someone else wanted to reply to a text.
The right legal representative can work to ensure you secure compensation for every cent relating to your injuries, while also making sure your lost wages are repaid so you can focus on recovery, however that may look like for you.
There are always options, as long as you take steps to pursue them. At Cunningham & Mears, every one of our Oklahoma City car accident personal injury attorneys knows how to tailor our cases to our clients’ needs and circumstances. We go over every scenario and strategy with you and help decide what would work best. We give you the time to relax as we attend mandatory court appearances and fight on your behalf. With two offices in the city limits, it is our pleasure to help people like you whenever and wherever we can. Call us today at (405) 232-1212 or use our contact form to learn more and get started.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More