There’s no excuse for distracted driving. Drivers should either take care of their activities before they get into their car or wait until the trip ends. Distracted driving is a leading cause of deaths and serious car and truck accidents in Vancouver and Battle Ground, Washington. When drivers operate their car while distracted, they should be held liable for all the damages they cause.
The damages in a personal injury case include your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of life’s pleasures. If a loved one died, our lawyers file wrongful death claims on behalf of the families. In many distracted driving cases, people other than the driver may be liable. For example, if a teenager was texting while driving their parents’ car, then we file claims against both the teenager and the parents. We may also file a claim for punitive damages if the distraction was due to drunk driving or other completely inexcusable reasons.
How dangerous is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that causes a driver’s focus to be diverted from safe driving. According to the US Department of Transportation, 3,142 people died due to distracted driving in America in 2020. Distracted driving includes:
- Texting while driving
- Talking on a smartphone while driving – even if the smartphone is a hands-free device
- Eating while driving
- Drinking while driving
- Smoking a cigarette while driving
- Driving while the driver is tired
- Driving while the driver is intoxicated
- Looking at passengers while driving
- Attending to children or pets while driving
- Looking at a GPS system while driving
- Looking at an entertainment system while driving
- Watching the landscape while driving
- Looking at another accident
Distracted drivers should plan their trip before they start. If they are tired, they should wait until they are rested. Nobody should ever drink and get into a car. Even one drink can be deadly. Conversations with family, friends, and co-workers can wait until the driver finishes the trip or the driver stops in a safe location such as a parking lot. Drivers in Washington should enjoy their food before they start their car’s engine.
Many states, including Washington, have laws to monitor distracted driving. Many states have also enacted graduated driver’s license programs so that drivers can gain experience and appreciate the dangers of distracted driving before an adolescent can be granted a driver’s license.
Drivers who are traveling at 60 mph are traveling 88 feet per second. In less than four seconds, a driver can travel the length of a football field. In those four seconds, a lot can go wrong.
Five reasons driving while distracted is so dangerous
Drivers who are distracted don’t have their eyes on the road.
Another motorist can cut into the path of a distracted driver – from a side road, a parking lot, another lane, or an intersection – in an instant. A vehicle in front of the distracted driver may slam on his/her brakes. Drivers who do not have their eyes on the road in front of them and who regularly fail to check the traffic around them cannot react in time when an emergency situation occurs. Distracted drivers may also not see potholes, road construction detour signs, or other hazards in time to avoid a car accident.
Distracted drivers do not have both hands off the steering wheel.
Drivers who are texting while driving, eating, or doing other activities that require using one hand (or even two) cannot respond to emergencies. They cannot steer into another lane, honk their horn to alert other drivers, or turn on their lights to see better. In the time it takes to return both hands to the steering wheel, fatal accidents and catastrophic injuries can occur.
Distracted drivers are not cognitively ready to respond.
Distracted drivers are not focused on where their car is going, anticipating or reacting to emergencies, or responding to sudden changes in conditions. It takes time to realize that a driver needs to shift lanes, accelerate, apply the brakes, or respond to emergencies. First, though, drivers need to know there is an emergency. A driver who is looking at an electronic device, tired, intoxicated, or distracted for any reason doesn’t see emergencies when they occur and can’t think about the numerous options and responses that may help avoid an accident.
Distracted drivers often violate the local traffic laws.
Drivers who are distracted often exceed the speed limit, run through stop signs or red lights, tailgate, or fail to merge properly. A violation of any Washington traffic law can easily cause an accident. A violation of traffic law normally means the driver is a double risk and a double danger. The first danger is because the driver is distracted. The second danger is because the driver is violating a traffic rule that is designed to save lives and protect other drivers.
Many people can be injured or killed.
A driver who is distracted can injure or kill himself/herself, other passengers in the distracted driver’s vehicle, other drivers, other passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders. Other victims generally have no way to anticipate or respond to a distracted driver.
At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA car and truck accident lawyers understand the unique challenges involved in distracted driving accident cases. We speak with all relevant witnesses, including all drivers and all passengers. We request the right to review a driver’s smartphone, truck logs, or other electronic data. Our lawyers also speak with the police to determine what other physical evidence indicates driver distraction.
To assert your right to compensation when a distracted driver injures you or causes the tragic death of a loved one, call us at 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. Our lawyers are respected by former clients, insurance adjusters, and defense lawyers for our record of success in personal injury cases.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.