Harrisonburg Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
Most drivers know that texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving is unsafe. But the continuing occurrence of distracted driving accidents shows that many drivers believe that the risk doesn’t apply to them.
Distracted driving is one of the most common contributing factors in car accidents in Virginia and throughout the United States. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are injured, and approximately 3,000 people are killed as a result of distracted driving crashes nationwide.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle wreck caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to seek money for your medical expenses and other accident-related losses. The compassionate team at Kendall Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights and determine the best path forward. We offer a free consultation. Contact us today to discuss the details of your accident with an experienced Harrisonburg injury lawyer.
What You Should Know About Distracted Driving In Harrisonburg?
Many people think nothing of glancing at a phone message, checking a map, or sipping a cup of coffee while behind the wheel. While these behaviors are common, they also are distractions while driving and potentially dangerous.
Experts suggest the problem of distracted driving is likely much worse than traffic accident data suggest since it’s not always easy to determine whether a driver was engaged in distracting behavior when a crash occurred.
The following statistics published by Drive Smart Virginia shed some light on the scale of this issue:
- A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crash events were attributable to some form of driver distraction or inattention within three seconds of the incident, such as texting, talking on mobile phones, or reaching for objects.
- Surveys conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found Virginia drivers observed in 2018 were 57 percent more likely to be manipulating cell phones than Virginia drivers observed in 2014.
- A Liberty Mutual survey reported 80 percent of teens considered the use of phone apps to be “not distracting” while driving.
- A Zendrive study estimates drivers with smartphones engage in handheld device use in 88 of every 100 trips, which equates to approximately 600 million distracted driving trips across the U.S. every day.
- More than 14 percent of fatal traffic accidents in 2020 were associated with distracted driving.
Types Of Distractions
A distraction is anything that prevents you from focusing your full attention on the task of safe driving. Research has shown that trying to do multiple things at once makes us more prone to error. This means drivers who focus on anything other than the road are significantly more likely to make driving errors and cause accidents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the three main categories of distraction are:
- Cognitive distractions—Anything that takes your mind off of the task of driving counts as a cognitive distraction. Examples of cognitive distractions include talking to passengers, talking or on the phone, sending text messages, programming a navigation system, becoming distracted by thoughts, or daydreaming.
- Visual distractions—Anything that takes your eyes off of the road presents a visual distraction. Common visual distractions include cell phone and GPS screens, fallen items within the car, passenger interactions, and other motor vehicle accidents.
- Manual distractions—Anything that causes you to remove your hands from the steering wheel is a manual distraction. Examples include adjusting vehicle control knobs, reaching for items inside the vehicle, typing on a cell phone, scrolling through email, eating, and consuming drinks.
Texting is one of the most dangerous driving distractions because it involves cognitive, visual, and manual activity. Research suggests reading or sending the average text message takes about five seconds. This may sound like a brief interval of time. But the Virginia Transportation Institute researchers said 5 seconds of distracted driving like driving the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour while blindfolded.
Other common driving distractions include:
- Surveying scenic views or billboards
- Tending to young children or pets
- Lighting cigarettes
- Listening to loud music
- Reading or watching videos
- Applying makeup and doing other personal grooming
- Checking your reflection in mirrors
Distracted Driving Laws In Virginia
Effective January 1, 2021, Virginia has banned the holding of handheld cell phones and personal communications devices while driving.
Virginia lawmakers previously passed a ban on texting while driving in 2009 but expanded the law in response to the unrelenting distracted driving crisis. In addition to texting and using apps, Virginia drivers are prohibited from talking on handheld devices.
There are several exceptions to the ban on handheld phones.
The following types of drivers are permitted to use handheld communications devices behind the wheel:
- On-duty emergency services personnel
- Drivers who are reporting an active emergency
- Drivers whose vehicles are lawfully parked or stopped
There are also several categories of drivers who are subject to additional distracted driving restrictions, such as:
- School bus drivers – School bus drivers are prohibited from using any telecommunications devices behind the wheel, including hands-free devices except in certain situations. The exceptions apply to emergency situations, communicating with dispatch officials while parked, and using hands-free devices to communicate with school officials.
- Commercial drivers – Commercial drivers transporting passengers are not allowed to talk or text on cell phones while driving unless they are reporting an emergency or using hands-free devices.
- Underage drivers – Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any telecommunications devices on the road, whether or not the devices are hands-free.
Any violation of Virginia’s ban on using cell phones while driving is considered a primary offense. Law enforcement officers are authorized to pull you over for using a handheld device even if you weren’t breaking other laws.
Those convicted of a first offense can be charged with a fine of $125, while second and subsequent convictions carry a fine of $250. If the violation occurs in a highway work zone, the fine is enhanced. Each distracted driving violation also results in three points added to your driver’s license.
How To Avoid Distracted Driving Accidents In Harrisonburg
Nearly all distracted driving accidents are preventable. The following best practices can help you eliminate distractions on the road and arrive alive:
- Put your cell phone away and pull over if you need to make a phone call.
- Make regular rest stops and pull off to a safe location if you feel drowsy.
- Limit the number of passengers in the car, especially if you’re a new driver.
- Avoid eating, drinking, and personal grooming while driving.
- Adjust your climate control, GPS, mirrors, and music before shifting the vehicle into drive.
- If you need to reach for a fallen object or assist a passenger, pull over first.
- Ask your passengers for help with navigation or responding to phone calls.
- Be aware of emotional distractions such as anger, frustration, or worry.
- Keep music at a reasonable volume.
How To Prove Distracted Driving In A Car Crash Claim
Even though distracted driving is extremely common, it can be difficult to prove that another driver was distracted. To bring a successful injury claim, an accident victim must present proof that the other driver was inattentive or distracted and that the other driver’s distracted directly contributed to the crash.
At Kendall Law Firm, our attorneys have handled numerous distracted driving accident cases. We can help gather evidence to support your injury claim and demonstrate the other driver’s negligence.
We will seek to collect the following types of evidence:
- Police accident reports, which often contain accident diagrams and official determinations regarding who was at fault
- Statements from other vehicle occupants or eyewitnesses who saw the other driver texting or distracted behind the wheel
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists
- Cell phone records, which may show calls or text message conversations that occurred when the accident took place
- Photos and video footage, which can show recorded images of the other driver engaged in distracted driving behaviors
Contact Kendall Law Firm For Help
The team at Kendall Law Firm is focused solely on representing people injured in personal injury accidents such as car accidents in Harrisonburg and surrounding areas of Virginia. We know the devastating impacts a car accident can have. We’re committed to doing everything we can to make your life easier and less stressful as you focus on healing.
No matter how complicated your Virginia distracted driving accident case may be, you can count on us to provide personalized attention and responsive communication. We will invest the time work to gain a thorough understanding of the accident and how it has disrupted your life. With this knowledge, we can craft a sound legal strategy to help you pursue the full compensation available by law.
We charge no up-front fee or out-of-pocket expenses to begin work on your case, and our initial case reviews are always free. We only receive a legal fee if you obtain compensation for you through an insurance settlement or court award. Contact us to speak with a knowledgeable Harrisonburg distracted driving accident attorney today.