Keep your eyes on the road and keep your hands at 10 and 2 o'clock. These basic messages from driver's education class seem simple, but when you're in the car between classes, on your way to work, or driving for hours on a road trip, sometimes even the fundamentals are overlooked.
Distracted driving is a well-known term with broad meaning. Use of a cell phone is a common experience for most drivers, whether that means for discussion with a friend, to pick out a playlist or to send a text message. Studies show that most drivers know it's wrong to look at their phones, but urge overrides instinct and they get distracted anyway. Besides phone usage, distracted driving occurs whenever a driver's attention wanders. Other common distractions include eating, tuning a radio, applying makeup and checking on pets. Data from 2007 to 2017 compiled 187,053 instances of distracted driving incidents in Tennessee. On average, that's more than 18,000 crashes each year in The Volunteer State.
Distracted driving accidents and liability
Most of those accidents were not major, but even the simplest distraction can cause significant damage and even cost someone's life. In a recent Ohio example, a 24 year-old woman was texting while driving when she ran adrift of her lane, striking two teenagers on the side of the road, killing them. This manner of distracted driving isn't just a car accident; it's a criminal offense and a liable act of negligence.
While the Ohio woman faces charges such as vehicular manslaughter, she is also likely to face a civil lawsuit for damages and suffering her actions have caused. Drivers are responsible for their actions. If someone else's careless behavior causes injury or - even worse - causes the death of a loved one, they are legally responsible for pain, suffering and related expenses.
A few seconds can have lasting impact
Car accidents are an unfortunately frequent part of life. Even though they are somewhat commonplace, that does not mean they are unavoidable. Anytime another party unjustly causes an injury or death, it's your right to seek coverage for your loss.
Car accident injuries can have lasting effects. Concussions and traumatic brain injuries are hard to identify and, if untreated, may cause permanent damage. In other cases, an injury can make it hard to continue in your chosen profession or may take away your ability to pursue a favorite pastime. It can be overwhelming to explore your legal options, but it's your well-being at stake. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you to look at the big picture after a serious accident has impacted your life.
As the numbers from the past ten years illustrate, distracted driving affects thousands of Tennesseans each year. It's a growing concern that is fully preventable. While the cell phone maybe calling, it's important to ignore the temptation and to keep your attention focused on what's ahead of you.