framingham car accident attorneyThe month of April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It is a united campaign that spreads awareness about the hazards and consequences of distracted driving. This movement is to encourage drivers, in not only Massachusetts but across the nation, to put down their phones and other distracting items and focus on the safe operation of their vehicles.

Distracted driving statistics are alarming. The fatal and non-fatal injuries suffered in distracted driving accidents should be enough to inspire drivers from taking their focus off the road. However, in the busy world we live in, it’s easy to forget about the dangers that distracted driving create to ourselves, our passengers and others on the roadways. We should all do our part and keep our attention on the road while driving to help save lives.  

The Dangers of Distracted Driving Are Real!

The distracted driving crash statistics are alarming and should be all that is needed to curb the bad habit. Unfortunately, a lot of drivers are not fully aware of the devastating consequences of distracted driving. Distracted Driving Awareness Month helps enlighten drivers about the dangers, consequences and safe driving habits that should help reduce the amount of distracted driving related injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that each day in the United States approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. That number increased from 2016, which reported 3,157 fatal accidents in the United States. In these reported fatal crashes, unsurprisingly, cellphones were stated to account for approximately 14 percent of all fatal distracted driving crashes.

The dangers of distracted driving are also a serious concern here in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security reported that 2016 statistics revealed a concerning increase in crash fatalities. The fatal motor vehicle crashes increased by more than 12 percent. This was reported to be more than double the national rate. Experts opine that a major factor in the increase in the fatality rate from auto accidents was a rise in distracted driving behavior.

What's Considered Distracted Driving?

A distraction is considered anything that takes your attention away from safely driving your vehicle. While distractions can arise from anything, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that cell phones have been determined to be a major culprit in contributing to many crashes. A short time ago, a study conducted by the Cambridge Mobile Telematics found that one in four drivers involved in car crashes were using a cell phone just before the crash.

With an increase in technology, cell phones are not just for making and receiving calls anymore. Drivers are texting, checking email and even surfing the web while behind the wheel. Just the other day I was stuck in traffic on the Mass Pike driving to Boston for court. I saw multiple drivers looking down at their phones while behind the wheel. The CDC reported that sending or reading a text message results in drives taking their eyes off the road for roughly 5 seconds. That is the same amount of time it takes to drive the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour. Five seconds doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is plenty of time for a devastating accident to happen.

Other forms of distractions come from using your GPS, eating while at the wheel and even thinking about other things while driving. All these things focus your attention on tasks other than the safe operation of your car. There have been studies on how having a conversation with a passenger can also be distracting, but obviously not as distracting or risky as using a cell phone. This is because a driver talking to a passenger can monitor the road and traffic as opposed to a driver on a cell phone is more likely to take their eyes and focus off the road and becomes unaware of the traffic situations.

Regardless of the cause of the distractions, taking your attention off the road and other vehicles puts drivers and others in danger of being seriously injury, if not fatally injured, in a car crash.

What to Do if You Are Injured by a Distracted Driver

The rise in distracted driving accidents have resulted in an increased number of personal injury cases from auto accidents. Most of us don’t anticipate being seriously injured in a car accident. However, the unfortunate reality is that there is an increased risk of being injured in a crash when we get behind the wheel. No matter what we do to avoid distracted driving, we cannot control what others are doing while they are behind the wheel. Distracted driving accidents can result in serious injuries, very expensive medical bills, lost wages and sever pain and suffering.

If you are a victim of a car accident in Massachusetts that was caused by a negligent (or distracted) driver, you have the right to seek financial compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Insurance companies, however, generally contest personal injury claims, even in distracted driving crashes. As the injured party in a personal injury claim, you have the burden of proving the other driver was negligent or distracted in order to obtain compensation. Sometimes this can be a difficult task and the insurance companies know this. Therefore, a great decision you can make after being seriously hurt in an accident is to seek the advice of an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney.

An experienced accident lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and educate you on the personal injury claim process. This will help you and your family make the right decisions after a crash as well as protect your legal rights to make sure you are in the best position to obtain the compensation you deserve. Sometimes, auto insurance companies will tell an accident victim they do not need an attorney. However, studies have established that accident victims, who retained personal injury lawyers, received larger settlements in car accident cases. This is why it is always recommended that anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident should, at a minimum, consult with an experienced attorney.

Additionally, if you are seriously injured in a car crash, you should educate yourself on the injury claim process. The Three Important Steps to take Immediately After a Car Accident is a great start to making sure you are protecting your right to receive fair compensation for your damages. You should also get a free copy of our book: You Were in a Car Accident: How to Maximize Your Settlement. This will explain how to get the best possible settlement in your accident case.

Seeking advice from an experienced accident attorney and educating yourself on personal injury claims from car accidents will put you in the best position to obtain the financial compensation you deserve after being seriously injured in a crash.

Charles S. Pappas
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Massachusetts injury lawyer & workers' compensation attorney serving accident victims in Webster & Framingham.
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