Distracted driving involves any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road or mind off the task of driving such as texting, talking on a cell phone, checking an address, eating while driving, and more. Drivers who are distracted behind the wheel cannot react to a changing traffic situation. Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. Even a momentary distraction can be enough to cause a collision and result in a serious injury or fatal crash. Understand your rights when you have been involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, and the Distracted Driving Attorney will go into more detail to fully help you understand what is considered distracted driving and how to handle your lawsuit.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles says that distractions generally fall into three categories:
- Manual Distractions – Distractions that cause drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel.
- Visual Distractions – Distractions that take the eyes of drivers off of the road.
- Cognitive Distractions – Distractions that take the minds of drivers off of the task of driving.
Drivers are confronted with hundreds of possible distractions. Some distractions may even fall under multiple categories. For example, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction.
Virginia law makes it illegal for any person to operate a moving motor vehicle while:
- Using any cell phone or “handheld personal communications device” to text another person
- Reading an email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device
- Holding a phone in their hand while driving in a highway work zone.
The law does make exceptions for:
- Operators of emergency vehicles while engaged in the performance of official duties operator who are lawfully parked or stopped
- Drivers using factory-installed or aftermarket global positioning systems (GPS) or wireless communications devices
- People using handheld personal communications devices to report emergencies
A violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-1078.1.A, which is the basic prohibition on handheld personal communications devices, is a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of $125 for a first offense. There is a fine of $250 for a second or subsequent offense. A violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-1078.1.B, the state law applying to construction zones, is punishable by a fine of $250.
Common Distracted Driving Car Wrecks
Some of the most common kinds of crashes caused by distracted driving include:
- Rear-End Accidents – A distracted driver may fail to recognize that traffic has slowed and the vehicle in front has stopped. A driver who does not brake when necessary may cause a rear-end collision.
- Head-On Collisions – A distracted driver who is not focused on the road could accidentally drift across the center stripe into oncoming traffic. This could result in a devastating head-on collision.
- Sideswipe Accidents – A distracted driver could wander from his or her lane into an adjacent lane, causing a sideswipe collision with nearby vehicles.
- Right-Turn or Left-Turn Accidents – Drivers who are distracted may not see oncoming vehicles or nearby pedestrians or cyclists when making a left or right turn.
- Intersection Accidents – If a distracted driver runs through a stop sign or red light, he or she could hit a vehicle traveling through the intersection in a T-bone crash.
- Failure to Yield Accidents – A distracted driver could fail to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians, resulting in a severe injury crash.
It is possible for some distracted driving crashes to be multiple-vehicle accidents. Liability can be more complex in multiple-vehicle cases, so it is crucial to hire an experienced car accident lawyer to help you with your case.
Distracted Driving Statistics 2019
The 2017 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts from the Virginia DMV reported that 208 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving. This was an 18.2 percent increase from the total number of fatalities in 2016.
There were 26,123 distracted driving crashes in 2017, which included 189 fatal accidents, 9,284 injury crashes, and 16,650 property damage accidents. Failure to pay attention to the road, rubbernecking, and texting while driving were the top three distracted driving categories.
Distracted driving accidents in Virginia in 2017 caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of fatalities across the state:
208 people killed, including 147 drivers, 37 passengers, and 24 pedestrians14,656 people injured, including 11,366 drivers, 3,074 passengers, and 216 pedestrians
- 1,659 people seriously injured, including 1,258 drivers, 345 passengers, and 56 pedestrians
The 167 distracted driving fatalities on non-interstate roadways accounted for more than 80 percent of the total.
Fatal crashes caused by distracted driving included:
Persons over 70 years of age were the age group with the highest total of distracted driving fatalities in 2017 with 25
Persons 21 years of age to 25 years of age had the highest number of injuries with 1,892
Drivers 26 years of age to 30 years of age had the second-highest fatality total with 24 and the second-highest injury total with 1,558
Most Common Distracted Driving Injuries in Virginia
Distracted driving accidents cause a wide range of injuries. Accident victims should always seek medical attention after an accident involving a distracted driver.
Be mindful of symptoms that you may experience in the days following a crash, such as headaches, nausea, or ringing in the ears. Some victims could deal with fatigue, dizziness, or sensitivity to light after accidents.
The most common kinds of injuries in distracted driving accidents include relatively minor injuries such as lacerations, sprains, and muscle strains, as well as more serious injuries including:
- Back, spine, and spinal cord injuries – including partial or total paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Head and neck injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of limbs
If a person is killed by a distracted driver in Virginia, a representative of the family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek fair compensation to help the family maintain financial stability.
Types of Distracted Driving Lawsuits
When a person has been hurt in a crash caused by a distracted driver, the victim may be entitled to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
While smartphone use while driving is becoming an increasingly common cause of distracted driving crashes, there are many other types of driver distractions, including:
- Adjusting stereo or climate controls
- Use of navigation apps or systems
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Paying attention to other passengers in the vehicle
- Looking at roadside incidents ( also known as rubbernecking)
- Attending to pets in the vehicle
- Personal grooming
- Driving while fatigued
If a distracted driving accident involved the use of a cell phone, it may be possible for an attorney representing the accident victim to subpoena a negligent driver’s phone records. When the cell phone records indicate that a message was being sent or phone was being used at the time of a crash, it can be persuasive evidence of distracted driving.
It is important to remember that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted mobile phone restrictions for commercial truck drivers that prevent them from holding a phone to make a call or dialing by pressing more than a single button. Commercial truck drivers who violate this rule can face fines of up to $2,750. Employers of such drivers can face fines of as much as $11,000.
Contact a Virginia Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
The personal injury attorney David Kendall and his team have been helping clients throughout Central Virginia since 2009. Our team understands how dangerous distracted driving can be. We stand up for victims who have been hurt in distracted driving collisions. We are ready to answer all of your legal questions and fight for fair compensation for you.
Call (866) 574-2704 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our distracted driving accident attorney today.