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Why Distracted Driving Is Dangerous


While there have always been driving distractions, today’s drivers are more distracted than ever. Urgent calls, pressing emails, and text message notifications keep many drivers glued to their phones while behind the wheel, and in-car GPS and entertainment systems provide distractions within arm’s reach as well. Of course, the “old” distractions have not gone away. Eating and drinking, rubbernecking, talking to passengers, and personal grooming all distract drivers from the task at hand, and they often do so with devastating results.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of car crash accidents occur across the United States as a result of distracted driving. Major cities like Portland and Vancouver see a disproportionate number of these accidents, but smaller cities, suburbs, and rural roads also provide the backdrop for the scene of many distracted driving accidents. The reason for this is simple: It only takes a split-second distraction to cause a driver to drift out of his or her lane, lose control, or get too close to another vehicle to avoid a collision.

The Three Risk Factors Associated with Distracted Driving

While there are a variety of different ways to explain the dangers associated with distracted driving, safety experts, such as those at the National Safety Council (NSC), point to three distinct risk factors. These are:

  • Cognitive Distraction – A cognitive distraction is one that takes a driver’s mind off of the task of driving. Even though we don’t often think about it, driving requires a significant amount of concentration, and cognitive distractions interfere with drivers’ ability to recognize and react to potential hazards.
  • Manual Distraction – A manual distraction is one that takes a driver’s hands off of the steering wheel. While many of us often drive one-handed, having both hands available is essential to being able to maintain control in the event that you need to stop suddenly, swerve, or perform some other type of evasive maneuver.
  • Visual Distraction – A visual distraction is one that takes a driver’s eyes off the road ahead. Drivers must constantly survey their surroundings, and they must be able to identify potential accident risks as soon as they arise. If a driver is looking at a screen, looking at a passenger, or looking at anything else inside of the vehicle, this isn’t going to be possible.

It is the combination of these risk factors that make handheld cell phone use a particularly dangerous form of distracted driving. Many other types of distractions, such as talking to passengers and rubbernecking, only involve two out of three. However, drivers who are texting, sending emails, or talking on the phone present all three types of risks. The impact of combining all three factors is reflected in the extremely high number of serious and fatal accidents caused by cell phone use that occur in Oregon, Washington, and other states each year.

Proving That Another Driver Was Distracted Behind the Wheel

When a distracted driver causes an accident, the process of recovering financial compensation begins with proving that the driver who hit you was not paying sufficient attention to the task at hand. This is not always easy; and, as you might expect, drivers who cause accidents do not often admit to being at fault in the crash. However, there are still various forms of evidence that can be used to prove distracted driving. And as with all accidents, if you were involved in a distracted driving collision (or believe you may have been involved in a distracted driving collision), you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Some examples of the types of evidence that can be used to prove cognitive, manual, and visual driving distractions include:

  • Cell Phone Records – If the other driver was talking on the phone or texting at the time of the crash, then this should be reflected in his or her cell phone records. Your attorney will be able to request a copy of these records during your auto accident case.
  • App Data – Rideshare (i.e., Uber and Lyft) apps and various other apps track users’ data in real-time. If the driver who hit you was distracted by an app, your attorney may be able to obtain the necessary records to prove this as well.
  • Vehicle Data – Modern vehicles record an extraordinary amount of data about drivers’ activities while they are driving. If the other driver’s vehicle has a “black box” that stores information about speed, braking intensity, and other driving-related behaviors, this data may also be available to help demonstrate that the other driver was distracted.
  • Social Media Posts – While some drivers are careful to avoid admitting fault, others are not. In fact, these days, it is not all that unusual for a distracted driver to post about causing an accident on social media. If the other driver has admitted fault, you may be able to use his or her social media post as evidence in support of your claim for financial compensation.
  • Camera Footage – It is also becoming increasingly common for auto accidents to be caught on video. If there is video footage of your accident (or video footage of the other driver being distracted in the moments leading up to the crash), this footage could also be strong evidence in support of your claim.
  • The Police Report – If the other driver admitted to being at fault when talking to the police, or if the responding officer observed evidence of distracted driving, this could be reflected in the police report. Your attorney will be able to obtain a copy of the police report and review it to determine if it supports a claim for damages.
  • Eye Witness Statements – Passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians can all potentially be witnesses in auto accident cases. If someone else saw that the other driver was distracted, he or she may be able to provide testimony to bolster your claim.
  • Forensic Evidence – Finally, forensic evidence from the scene of the accident can often be used to prove distracted driving. Food in the driver’s seat, a spilled drink or dropped phone in the footwell, and various other forms of evidence can all point toward driver distraction as the causal factor in a serious or fatal collision.

Speak with an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer at D’Amore Law Group

At D’Amore Law Group, we represent individuals and families throughout Oregon and Washington in claims for financial compensation. If you have questions about recovering financial compensation after a distracted driving accident, we encourage you to call us directly or contact us online for a free consultation.

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