Cell phone technology has continued to advance, revolutionizing the way we live our lives. But it has also led to a dramatic increase in distracted driving. In fact, it is estimated that distracted driving accounts for 15% of car crashes that result in an injury. And over 424,000 Americans were injured in accidents involving distracted driving in 2019. If you get into a distracted driving accident in Washington, DC, turn to a trusted distracted driving accident lawyer at Regan Zambri Long PLLC.
Unfortunately, victims of crashes involving distracted drivers in Washington, DC can be left with severe injuries, mounting medical bills, and even an inability to work. This makes it critical that you contact an experienced distracted driving accident lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver.
Many states have enacted laws meant to curb distracted driving. These laws can vary greatly from one state to the next, leading to confusion over what it is legal to do behind the wheel. Washington, DC has even gone as far as to ban texting and talking on the phone while driving (unless doing so hands-free) in an effort to reduce the incidence of distracted driving. However, many experts still consider distracted driving to be one of the biggest problems on the DC Metro area highways.
People usually think of distracted driving as texting or using a phone while driving. Although this is one of the main causes of distracted driving accidents, distraction can take many forms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadly defines distracted driving as driving while doing another activity. Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be considered a distraction. Taking your attention away from the road can increase your chances of a motor vehicle crash. These distractions are usually classified as one of three main types:
Many forms of distraction, such as texting or sending an email while driving, can fit into all these categories. A significant percentage of distracted driving accidents involve cell phone use. However, there are various distractions that can lead to accidents including:
Many drivers engage in these actions while driving on a regular basis and would consider them harmless. Unfortunately, even a minor distraction could have disastrous consequences.
Reaching for something on the floor of your car or sending a quick text while driving may seem innocent enough. But in fact, taking your eyes off of the road for even a second can cause an accident if someone cuts in front of you, or comes to a sudden stop when you are not looking.
Sending texts is particularly dangerous, as the average text takes 5 seconds to send. If you are driving on the highway at 55 mph, sending a text would then be equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. Driving safely requires all of your attention. Anything you do that acts as a distraction while driving could have tragic consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 3,142 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2019.
Not only does using your phone pose a threat, but even hands-free distractions can reduce your reaction time while driving. In a study conducted by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, Dr. David Strayer and colleagues discovered that even hands-free talking and texting is not risk-free, as it poses a mental distraction. In their study, the researchers found that drivers who were mentally distracted by a phone call, dictating texts, or even listening to the radio needed 18% more time to respond to brake lights than cars ahead of them. According to Strayer, even when used hands-free, cell phone use affects reaction time significantly enough for a 20-year-old driver to suffer from the same delayed reaction time as a 70-year-old-driver.
Ultimately, anything that takes your eyes and/or attention away from the road even for a matter of seconds can affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. All it takes is a minor distraction for you to cause an accident that could result in severe injuries or even death.
Every accident is unique and can cause different types of injuries and damages. A car accident involving distracted driving in Washington, DC can be particularly devastating. A distracted driver taking their eyes off the road for even a few seconds can cause them to veer into another lane, sideswiping or hitting another vehicle head-on at full speed. Distracted drivers may even unknowingly fail to stop at a stoplight, resulting in a t-bone accident or striking a pedestrian, cyclist or scooter rider.
While distracted driving accidents carry a higher risk of fatalities and catastrophic injuries, non-fatal injuries are common and include:
Non-fatal distracted driving accidents can result in devastating injuries for victims. Highlighting the importance of giving your full attention to the road at all times when behind the wheel. Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents, and in particular, those involving cell phones, have become such a common occurrence that many states have had to implement laws restricting the use of mobile devices in vehicles in the hopes of suppressing this problem.
Distracted driving accidents involving the use of electronic devices have grown increasingly common. More states have begun to implement laws that ban the use of handheld devices behind the wheel. Currently, 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban texting for all drivers. Additionally, 24 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld devices and cell phones while driving. All of these handheld cell phone bans are considered primary enforcement laws. Meaning that an officer may pull over and cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic violation/offense taking place.
Overall, Washington, DC arguably has some of the strictest distracting driving laws in the country. D.C. was amongst the first places in the country to implement restrictions on the use of mobile devices inside a car with the passing of the Distracted Driving Safety Act of 2004. This banned the use of handheld cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. The law prohibits drivers from using mobile phones and other electronic devices (including but not limited to: computers, video games, pagers, and music players while actively driving a motor vehicle).
However, exceptions to this law do exist for drivers using devices equipped with, or connected to, hands-free technology. If you are able to use your device while keeping both hands on the wheel, you are not in violation of this law. Exceptions also exist that allow drivers to use their phones to initiate or terminate a hands-free phone call. Additionally, drivers are always free to use their cell phones in emergencies. Such as if they need to call 911 or another emergency service. (It is important to note that this law only applies to moving vehicles. Drivers in parked cars and vehicles pulled over on the side of the road, are free to use handheld devices.)
Under the Distracted Driving Safety Act of 2004, there are additional restrictions placed on school bus drivers and drivers with learner’s permits. These drivers are entirely banned from texting and talking on a phone while a vehicle is in motion regardless of whether or not they use hands-free technology. (For bus drivers, this does not apply if they are driving their personal vehicle. Hands-free technology would be allowed in this situation.) The only exception for student drivers and bus drivers is in the event of an emergency. These drivers can use their cell phones to place an emergency call if necessary.
Similar to drunk driving, distracted driving is a willful and negligent act that can put other people’s lives at risk. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. A distracted driving accident can cause serious consequences for victims. You could be facing high medical bills, lost wages, property damage, as well as pain and suffering, which has long-lasting ramifications. The fact is that you should not have to suffer because someone else chose to drive distracted.
It is imperative that you contact an experienced Washington, DC distracted driving accident lawyer who can help you during this difficult time. At Regan Zambri Long, we know how difficult and confusing the time following a serious car accident with a distracted driver can be. This is why we strive to support each of our clients on their road to recovery. We can remove a great burden from your shoulders by doing the hard work to get you the compensation you deserve. This way, you are free to focus on healing from your injuries.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation to find out more about how a distracted driving accident attorney can help you. Learn more about how the car accident attorneys at Regan Zambri Long can give you the best chances of securing proper compensation for your injuries following a distracted driving accident in Washington, DC.
If Washington, DC drivers are caught in violation of the Distracted Driving Safety Act, they can be subjected to a fine of $100 with each subsequent offense increasing in severity. However, first-time offenders who are caught using their phones while driving can have the fine suspended by providing proof of having obtained a hands-free device before the fine was imposed.
If commercial drivers are caught violating the distracted driving law two or more times, their commercial driver’s license will be disqualified for 60 days for a second offense that occurs within three years of a first offense. This disqualification increases to 120 days for a third conviction within three years of the second offense. Additionally, employers can be subjected to heavy fines if one of their drivers is convicted of distracted driving.
If you were involved in a distracted driving accident in Washington, DC, you may be wondering who can you prove the other driver was not paying attention at the time of the accident. Some evidence your car accident lawyer may collect to prove distracted driving include:
To get this type of evidence, your attorney may need to file a subpoena and send a letter to ensure the proof is not destroyed.
Yes. Because the driver is not paying attention to the road, they are breaching their duty to use reasonable care and protect other drivers on the road from harm.
If you find yourself easily distracted when driving, there are some tips you can follow that will minimize distractions:
According to the CDC, teenagers and young adults are the most likely to drive while distracted. The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found in 2019 that 39% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days either texted or email while behind the wheel at least one of those days. In addition, those students were more likely to do other risky activities such as not wearing a seat belt, drunk driving, or riding with an individual who had been drinking alcohol.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, an accident victim may recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are compensation for monetary losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and loss of earning potential.
Non-economic damages are for losses that are non-monetary and can be subjective. These damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium, and emotional distress.
If you were a victim of a distracted driving accident and need help recovering compensation for your injuries, our Washington, DC distracted driving accident lawyers are here to help. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your claim. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you do not owe an attorney’s fee until your case is resolved.