Despite all the education, warnings, and laws passed banning using your cell phone while driving, countless numbers of drivers cause serious crashes each day because they just can’t put their phones away. Cell phone use while driving is so prevalent – and so dangerous – that it is responsible for killing nine people every day in this country and injuring another 1,000.
The question that law enforcement, safety advocates, and car accident victims and their families ask is why is it so difficult to stay off the phone when you are supposed to be focused on the road? There have been multiple studies done that reveal what factors may be at play:
- Alerts: Most of us instantly react to our phone whenever there is an alert letting you know of an incoming call, text, email, or social media posting. When you pick your phone up to see what that alert is for, you are even more distracted to what is taking place around you because your attention has now been directed to that alert. Even when a person is driving, that urge to check is still there, despite the dangers of taking their eyes off the road. It is even easier to be distracted if the person is waiting for an important call or message. In these situations, a driver should pull over to a safe area before they check to see what the alert is for.
- Multitasking: It seems these days, we are always multitasking. For example, who just sits and watches television anymore? When many of us are sitting in front of the TV, we are also looking on our phones, checking emails, texting, engaging with others on our social media accounts, all while watching a program. But looking at your phone while watching a show means you just miss a line or two of dialogue. Looking at your phone while driving could mean you miss the child crossing at the crosswalk.
- False sense of security with hands-free devices: Virginia, just like many states in the country, has a hands-free driving law. This means that no driver can use a device unless it has hands-free technology that lets the driver answer messages and calls through voice commands or using their vehicle dashboard controls. But even having a conversation on your hands-free device causes enough of a distraction that takes your full attention off the road. You are focusing on the conversation and that may mean a delay in foreseeing a potential hazard, causing a slower reaction time and potential crash.
So how can you avoid distractions when driving? We recommend the following tips:
- Make sure to put your phone and any other electronics in a place where you won’t be distracted by them and where you can’t access them.
- Set your smartphone so that anyone who calls or texts will be informed that you are driving and will return their call later.
- If you do have to make a call, text, check emails, or any other task with your phone, pull over to a safe spot before picking up that phone.
- Make sure to set your vehicle’s temperature, radio, navigation, and other controls before you begin to drive.
Let a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Help
If you have suffered an injury in an accident caused by a driver engaged in distracted driving behaviors, you may be worried about what legal options you may have. Even one trip to the emergency room can cost thousands of dollars, and if you were admitted to the hospital, needed surgery, or other treatments, those medical bills can skyrocket.
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be unable to work while you recover. This means loss of income for many people. Some victims find they are unable to go back to the professions they had before the accident and injury occurred because there is often some degree of permanent damage and/or chronic pain.
If the accident was caused by another party who behaved recklessly or negligently, Virginia allows victims to take legal action in order to obtain financial compensation for all of these financial expenses. Victims can also pursue damages for losses that are not economic, such as pain and suffering, scarring emotional anguish, and more.
If you would like to discuss your situation, contact our office to speak with an experienced Virginia car accident attorney. Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has been advocating for accident victims for more than three decades and will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.