A common topic raised in discussions about the major causes of motor vehicle crashes is distracted driving. Statistics and research on car accidents reveal that distracted driving is one of the main cause of crashes and a growing concern throughout the country.
Many of the personal injury cases we handle in Massachusetts that arise from motor vehicle accidents involve some allegation of distracted driving. There are many sources and causes of distractions for drivers behind the wheel.
Below I will discuss some of the concerning statistics of distracted driving, a few of the common causes of distracted driving crashes and what you should do if you were injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver.
Summary of Distracted Driving Statistics
Fatal crashes increased at a shocking rate in 2016. The National Highway Safety Administration found that there were approximately 3,000 crashes annually involving distracted driving according to available data analyzed over the course of five years ending in 2016. These crashes resulted in injuries to around 410,000 people each year. Additionally, in 2016 there were over 34,000 fatal car crashes in the US. It was estimated by the NHSA that nearly 10% of these fatal accidents were caused by distracted driving.
In Massachusetts, fatal traffic crashes increased by 12.8% in 2016. This increase was more than double the national rate. Traffic safety experts in Massachusetts and across the country believe that the growing number of distracted drivers is one of the leading factors of the increases in traffic fatalities. Based upon these increasing statistics, New England states have joined together along with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS), Office of Grants and Research-Highway Safety Division in a distracted driving education campaign.
Common Causes of Distracting Driving
Distracted is generally defined as being unable to concentrate because one's mind is preoccupied. There are three main categories of distractions: Visual, Manual and Cognitive. But, generally, anything that takes your attention away from the road and responsibilities of operating your vehicle can be a distraction. Here are three major causes of distracted driving:
Cellphone Use: This one should not come as a surprise. Use of a cellphone while driving is one of the main causes of distracted driving. This is considered a visual distraction. In the high paced environment that we live in now, everyone is always on the go. Demanding jobs and other obligations cause many drivers in traffic to constantly check their cellphones for text messages or emails. In fact, according to AAA, nearly 45% of drivers admitted to reading a text message or an email while driving within the last 30 days. I wrote about this before, where a study showed that 1 in 4 drivers were using a cellphone just prior to a car crash. Studies show that drivers using cellphones while driving were four times more likely to be involved in accidents severe enough to result in injuries.
Drowsiness: Many studies show that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. When a driver is drowsy, he or she can become distracted from their duties to be a safe and cautions driver. A particular concern for drowsy driving involves truck drivers. According to the US Department of Transportation, driver fatigue has been determined to be a major factor in trucking accidents. More than one-third of fatal trucking collisions were due to truck driver fatigue. Driver fatigue and drowsiness makes drivers less able to pay attention while driving, slows drivers’ reaction times and impacts a driver’s ability to make proper decisions while behind the wheel.
Intoxication: Driving while intoxicated is another major cause of distracted driving. Drugs and alcohol affect our cognitive abilities, which result in distractions while driving. The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention has reported that approximately 28 people die in drunk driving accidents every day in the United States. Research is clear that alcohol impairs our judgment and affects our abilities to react in an efficient manner while driving a car. This causes many drunk or impaired drivers to make poor decision and fail to make proper decision which causes many accidents and serious injuries.
What to do if You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver in Massachusetts
Many of us don’t ever expect or think about being seriously injured in a car accident. In many situations, regardless of how carefully we drive, we are unable to avoid an accident. This is often due to the growing number of distracted drivers on the road. Distracted drivers increase our risks of being seriously or fatally injured in an accident. Accidents causing serious injuries can result in significant damages. These include very expensive medical bills, lost wages and sever pain and suffering.
If you are unfortunately injured in a car accident in Massachusetts that was caused by a negligent (or distracted) driver, you have the right to seek financial compensation for your damages and losses. With insurance companies denying or raising complicated legal issues in many personal injury claims, you should make sure you know what steps to take following a crash to make sure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
The first step is educating 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. Additionally, there is great information on how to get the best possible settlement in your accident case in our book: You Were in a Car Accident: How to Maximize Your Settlement. These helpful materials will inform you on what to do and what not to do to make sure you and your loved ones are in the position to get what you deserve after being seriously injured in a crash.
One important decision you can make after being hurt in a crash is to consult with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney. An experienced accident lawyer will be able to educate you on the personal injury claim process, help you and your family make the right decisions after a crash, protect your legal rights and make sure you are in the best position to receive the compensation you deserve. Studies have shown that accident victims, who hired personal injury lawyers, received larger settlements in car accident cases. For these reasons, anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident should seriously consider hiring, or at least consult with an experienced attorney.
Speak with an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been seriously injured in an accident, you should contact an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney. If the other driver is responsible for causing your injuries you deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries and damages. You should not settle for less.
The Framingham personal injury attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP offer complimentary consultations where we will evaluate your case and provide you with a fair valuation of your accident claim. We offer contingent fee agreements on car accident cases, which means you don’t pay us anything unless and until we get you the money you deserve for your injuries.
To speak with someone on our legal team or to schedule your free meeting, please call (508) 879-3500 or contact us online.