Our firm has represented a number of clients in motor vehicle cases where distracted drivers on public highways were involved in crashes, causing either serious injuries or deaths. It’s being reported that distracted drivers are becoming more and more prevalent and therein lies a serious safety problem on our highways. If a driver of a vehicle engages in an activity that has the potential to take attention away from the primary task of driving, that person is then driving while distracted. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 20% of injury crashes reported in 2009 involved distracted driving. There are three main types of distraction:
• Visual – taking your eyes off the road;
• Manual – taking your hands off the wheel;
• Cognitive – taking your mind off the focus of driving.
Depending upon the distraction of choice, whether it be talking on a cell phone, putting on makeup, eating, or simply fast forwarding to the next song on a smart device, one or more of the above distraction types come into play. The more distraction types are involved, the greater is the likelihood of a crash. A good example of this cumulative effect is a driver using a hand-held device. While a person is looking at, manipulating and concentrating on the device, that person has a 400% increased likelihood of getting into a crash serious enough to injure themselves, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Lawyers in our firm handled a case in Georgia not too long ago where a truck driver ran through a stop sign while talking on a cell phone and crashed into our clients’ car. Our client, who had a good job, was badly injured and is now paralyzed and unable to work. We were able to settle the case after selecting a jury, but learned during discovery how serious the problem is when company-owned vehicles are being driven by employees who routinely use cell phones while driving.
If you want more information on this subject, feel free to contact Julia Beasley or Mike Crow, lawyers in our Personal Injury/Products Liability Section who have handled a number of these cases, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Julia.Beasley@beasleyallen.com or Mike.Crow@beasleyallen.com.
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