Distracted Driving a Threat During Holiday Travel Season
More than 55 million Americans will hit the road this holiday season, according to a forecast by AAA. As highway traffic heats up, drivers must be increasingly wary of a growing threat: distracted driving.
In 2017, distracted driving was blamed for nearly 25,000 injuries and 152 deaths in North Carolina alone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 800,000 vehicles are being operated by a driver using a cell phone at any given time.
While all types of people engage in distracted driving, the behavior is especially common among young drivers. A recent report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that 88 percent of teenage drivers engage in at least one risky behavior while driving, including texting while driving.
While most people associate distracted driving with using a smartphone while behind the wheel, distracted driving is defined by the NHTSA as any activity that diverts one’s attention from driving.
Distracted driving may include:
- Talking on the phone
- Reading on a smartphone
- Watching video on a smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Grooming (changing clothes, applying makeup, doing one’s hair, etc.)
- Adjusting the radio
- Focusing on a navigation system
- Talking with other passengers
- Caring for or disciplining children
- And many other activities…
Recently, Riddle & Brantley attorney Kurt Dixon, assisted by managing partner Gene Riddle, settled multiple lawsuits involving a case in which a distracted truck driver missed multiple signs about road construction and lane closures. The driver’s negligence resulted in a tragic accident that took the lives of a family of four.
Distracted Driving Laws in North Carolina
While there is no general law prohibiting all forms of distracted driving in North Carolina, texting while driving is illegal. It is also illegal for drivers younger than 18 and bus drivers to use cell phones while driving.
Drivers should take these laws seriously. In a recent case in New Jersey, a woman was found guilty of second degree vehicular homicide and faces 10 years in prison after she struck and killed a pedestrian while texting and driving.
Criminal cases in North Carolina do not consider personal injury or property damage resulting from auto accidents, but if you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s distracted driving, you may have a claim for compensation. We’ve handled hundreds of claims where our clients suffered injuries because someone else engaged in negligent behavior.
If you’ve been injured due to distracted driving, you can file a claim with the insurance company and in certain situations, you may consider filing a lawsuit for compensation.
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, including distracted driving, talk with an experienced auto accident attorney to learn more about your legal options.
Stay Safe, North Carolina
As millions hit the roads in North Carolina and across the country for the holiday season, it is more important than ever to be aware of one’s surroundings and keep an eye out for distracted drivers.
You can do your part, too, by limiting cell phone use, avoiding eating in the car, and when necessary, using voice commands or hands-free technology.
An auto accident due to distracted driving can happen in seconds, but the consequences can last a lifetime.
Stay safe this holiday season, North Carolina.
If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s distracted driving, call 1-800-525-7111 to speak with an experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer.