In 2016, nearly 37,000 people died in automobile accidents and a further 421,000 were injured. A significant number of these injuries and fatalities were caused by distracted drivers who were texting, talking, sipping, chewing, reaching, or daydreaming at the time of the accident. Those who are injured, and the survivors of those who are killed, in such accidents can pursue damages in Illinois for the pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of consortium, and diminished quality of life a distracted driving accident can cause.
The Deadliest Driving Distractions
Of the automobile accidents in the US last year, nearly 1.6 million involved a cell phone. Among these, nearly 25% were caused by texting while driving. Nationwide, over 56% of motorists have admitted to utilizing their cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.
Those who use cell phones to send text messages are 300% more likely to cause an accident than those who do not. Texting takes a driver's manual, visual, and cognitive focus away from the road. The State of Illinois bans all motorists from using handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle.
71% of drivers have acknowledged that they eat or drink while they drive. This distraction can put other motorists at serious risk of injury or fatality. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that it increases the risk of crashing by up to 80% and further states that 65% of near-miss accidents are caused by eating while driving.
It is estimated that 77% of drivers spend up to 15% of the time behind the wheel engaged in a conversation with either another passenger or someone on the phone. These distractions remove the driver's visual and cognitive focus from the road and increase the possibility of having an accident.
The Law and Distracted Drivers
Drivers can be held liable for both civil and criminal penalties for distracted driving. Criminal penalties can include charges of careless driving and failure to maintain control over their vehicle. An injury lawyer in Illinois can help victims recover damages for the injuries and expenses these accidents cause.
Establishing fault for a distracted driving accident can be done by using video and photographic evidence taken at the scene of the accident, medical records that establish the severity and long-term physical impact of the injuries, police reports, and eyewitness statements.