The mainstreaming of the World Wide Web, beginning in the 1990s, changed the way people live their lives. With the expansion of wireless networks and advances in cell phone technology, smartphones with internet access and texting capabilities exploded in popularity. Estimates are that almost 312 million people in the U.S. regularly use smartphones.
People rely on smartphones to conduct business, communicate with friends and family, pay bills and find information quickly and easily. Unfortunately, they often use their phones while driving and may cause otherwise avoidable car accidents.
Texting While Driving Is a Distraction
You’ve probably heard about distracted driving as a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents, but you may not understand precisely what the term means. To drive safely, people must keep their focus on traffic and operating their vehicles.
There are three categories of distracted driving, and some behaviors include all three. Texting while operating a car encompasses all forms of distracted driving.
When you’re driving, your mental focus needs to be sharp. If your mind wanders, you may not have time to react to sudden changes in traffic. Thinking about what’s for dinner, the conversation you’re having with a friend, the errands you need to complete and an upcoming presentation for work qualify as distractions.
Both of your hands need to grip the steering wheel to control your car safely. Even if your vehicle has a self-driving capability, your hands need to be ready at a second’s notice. If an action takes your hand(s) off the steering wheel, it’s a distraction.
While driving, your eyes need to watch the road, your car’s mirrors, nearby pedestrians, traffic lights and signals, parked cars and surrounding traffic. Your situation can change in an instant, and you need to see these changes as they happen. If you’re not watching constantly, you can cause an accident.
The visual effects of reading a text don’t end when you look away from your phone. Your eyes focus differently when viewing objects that are close and at a distance. Changing between the two produces a “hangover effect,” which is the time it takes to reorient your vision.
Texting and Driving Is Illegal
Lawmakers addressed the large number of accidents caused by smartphone usage by passing laws prohibiting hands-on use in most states. In California, hands-free cell phone use is allowed unless the driver is 18 or younger.
Governments and private organizations campaign to explain the dangers involved. A California Office of Traffic Safety campaign reminds drivers to go safely and get off their apps. Although most people understand the risks, some text while driving anyway.
There Are Other Forms of Distracted Driving
Texting while driving is a prevalent cause of car accidents, but many other actions are considered distractions. These include:
- Other cell phone and electronics use, such as conducting phone calls
- Eating, drinking and smoking
- Interacting with passengers or pets
- Searching or reaching for something in your car
- Adjusting car controls
Although these actions may take only a few seconds, traffic conditions can change in the blink of an eye. Distractions usually delay a driver’s reaction time, and those delays can cause deadly accidents.
Texting While Driving Delays Your Reaction Time
If drivers could stop their cars instantly, they could avoid lots of collisions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Driving reaction time has three stages and only accounts for the time it takes for a vehicle to begin to slow down, not come to a complete stop.
Although these stages may only take a few seconds to complete, every second can count when trying to avoid a collision. The time it takes to complete the steps doesn’t change just because you don’t begin the first stage when you should.
Say that the vehicle in front of you brakes. It takes time for you to notice the brake lights and realize what they mean. Then, you need to decide what action to take. Do you need to brake also? Do you need to turn the steering wheel also to change your direction?
Mental processing is the time it takes for you to notice a situation and decide which action(s) to take.
Once you’ve decided what you need to do, you need to take action to make it happen. It takes time to move your foot onto the brake pedal and start pushing it down or to begin turning the steering wheel.
Your vehicle doesn’t know it needs to do anything different until you tell it to. Once you depress the brake pedal or turn the steering wheel, it takes time for your car to follow your instructions to slow down or change course.
A Lot Can Happen in Five Seconds
On average, it takes around five seconds to read a text. Say that you’re driving at 55 mph and take your eyes away from the road for five seconds to read or send a text. During that time, your car travels approximately the length of a football field. Since you’re not looking at the road, you drive that distance basically blind.
Suppose a child chases her ball into the street from the “50-yard line.” If you’re looking at your phone instead of the road, will you be able to avoid hitting her?
Car Accidents Are Often Costly
If you are in an accident caused by texting and driving, you will likely have many directly-related expenses. The person who caused the accident is responsible for paying your damages, but their insurance companies don’t like to pay more than the bare minimum amount of compensation.
In California, you can seek damages even if you’re partially responsible for causing your accident. However, you don’t want an unfair amount of blame assigned to you because it will affect your compensation. Many injured accident victims rely on Johnson Attorneys Group for legal assistance and to maximize settlement amounts.
Economic damages reimburse specific qualifying expenses, such as:
- Hospital bills, medical treatments, rehabilitation and medications
- Wages lost during your time away from work
- The cost of hiring caregivers
- Property damage
Because economic damages essentially pay your bills that resulted from your accident, you’ll need to keep a file with these bills, invoices and receipts. Your attorney will use them when building your case.
Sometimes, the costs of an accident are more than just financial. Your injuries can impact your life and cause things like:
- PTSD, anxiety and depression
- Pain and suffering
- Losing your ability to enjoy life
Non-economic damages compensate you for these conditions. The amount you might receive can vary significantly.
If the at-fault party exhibited certain behaviors, you might receive punitive damages. Few cases qualify; your lawyer will tell you if you’re eligible.
Did a Texting-While-Driving Accident Injure You?
The experienced personal injury lawyers at Johnson Attorneys Group can help. With our 98.7% case success rate, over $100 million won for our clients and 12 locations throughout California, there’s no reason to look elsewhere. Best of all, you won’t pay legal fees until we resolve your case successfully.
Reach out to Johnson Attorneys Group to request your free case review 24/7. We’ll assess your claim and tell you how we can help. Use live chat, submit our contact form or call us at (800) 208-3538.