Our society has come to value multi-tasking, and new technology has given us a seemingly endless number of things we can do—all at the same time. But multi-tasking while behind the wheel of a car can be deadly. Any kind of distraction—any activity that diverts attention from the road, even for a few seconds―can cause an auto accident.
Texting while driving is a growing problem. Texting increases the likelihood of a crash by a shocking 23 times! But even talking on a cell phone—including a hands-free device—raises the risk of being in an accident to a level comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit. And many drivers who wouldn’t consider getting behind the wheel while intoxicated barely give a thought to conducting business over the phone or sending or reading a text message while they are driving.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2014, the most recent year that figures are available, approximately 2,338,000 people were injured in traffic crashes. Of those, the number of people injured in crashes involving driver distraction was around 431,000, or 18 percent of the total number injured. Of those, approximately 33,000 of the injuries occurred in crashes in which cell phone use of some kind—whether talking or texting was involved. The National Safety Council reports even higher numbers. According to them, texting is the cause of 28 percent of motor vehicle accidents.
Distracted Driving Concerns in Maryland
Recent research shows the problem of distracted driving is a top concern for Maryland drivers—greater than concern over drunk, drugged, or aggressive driving. But as concerned as Maryland drivers are about distracted driving, their concern doesn’t seem to prevent many of them from doing it themselves.
Here are some statistics that show our state has a serious distracted driving problem:
- More than 53,000 distracted driving crashes occur in Maryland every year. That’s 58 percent of the total crashes in the state, exceeding nationwide estimates!
- 28,874 people are injured and 232 people killed every year in a crash caused by a distracted driver in Maryland.
- Crashes caused by distracted drivers made up 46 percent of the total number of fatal crashes in Maryland.
- Close to 84 percent of the distracted driving crashes occurred in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas.
Common Driver Distractions
Below are listed some of the most common causes of driver distraction in Maryland:
- Texting (including voice to text)
- Talking on cell phone, with hands-free use not significantly different from hand-held
- Getting directions online
- Engaging with other passengers
- Reading written directions
- Reading a newspaper
- Looking at a screen on the car’s console
- Setting the GPS
- Operating car windows and other controls
- Smoking; lighting cigarettes
- Changing radio station
- Reading billboards
- Admiring the scenery
- Personal grooming—hairstyling, applying make-up, etc.
- Children and pets
- Picking up dropped items
Types of Distractions
There are three main types of distractions that may affect drivers:
- Manual distractions are those where you move your hands away from the task of controlling the vehicle. Changing the station on the radio or picking up an object from the floor of the car are examples of manual distraction.
- Visual distractions cause you to look away from the road. Turning around to check to your kids in the back seat is a visual distraction.
- A cognitive distraction is when you are thinking about something other than your driving. Thinking about what you’ll cook for dinner, how you’ll handle the job interview, what you need to do to prepare for an exam are cognitive distractions.
Texting is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text message typically causes a driver’s attention to be removed from the road for five seconds. In that time, assuming driving at a speed of 55 miles per hour, a car will travel the distance of the length of a football field. That’s a long way for a car to move without a driver’s focus, and it is easy to see how crashes occur.
Getting the Help You Need Following a Distracted Driving Accident
When you’ve been seriously injured in a Maryland motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, or if a close family member has died because of another driver’s distraction on the road, you may be able to recover money from that driver as compensation for your damages that resulted from the crash. It is important to retain an experienced accident attorney in Baltimore if you hope to obtain a significant settlement or verdict, one that is sufficient to cover all of your economic and non-economic damages. In the Baltimore area, you can get the experienced legal help you need by contacting Rice, Murtha & Psoras.
When you retain Rice law firm to represent you, we will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the accident, gather evidence to prove that the distracted driver was responsible for the accident and your injuries, and when necessary, bring on board accident reconstruction experts and traffic safety engineers to help support your claim. We will obtain your medical and employment records, along with pertinent bills and receipts to demonstrate the financial losses you’ve suffered and to prove the seriousness of your injuries, and we will document your pain, suffering, mental anguish, and loss of your quality of life. We will carefully and meticulously build a persuasive a case to recover compensation for your economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical costs
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost earnings and diminished earning potential
- The cost of medical devices
- The cost of household help
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
An Important Word of Advice: Do Not Engage with the Insurance Adjuster!
Whenever you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver, you can expect a call from that driver’s insurance company’s adjuster. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into a discussion of the accident. That is your lawyer’s job. Engaging with an insurance adjuster is usually detrimental to your case. Adjusters are paid by insurance companies to find ways to minimize the amount of money they pay out on claims, and they know how to twist things around to their advantage. They may even suggest that you don’t need a lawyer. Remember, insurance companies are in business to generate profits, not to help accident victims! The less they pay, the higher their profits, so leave all negotiations to your attorney. And never sign anything unless your lawyer tells you to do so.
Seek a Distracted Driving Accident Attorney – Getting the Help You Need!
If you or a member of your family suffered injuries attributable to a distracted driver, or any type of driver negligence, your best bet is to call Randolph Rice Injury Lawyers in Baltimore to arrange a time for a free consultation. You will have no out-of-pocket expenses and will not pay anything until we win money for you.