Approximately 3,166 people were fatally injured in distracted driving accidents in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite laws restricting cell phone and other electronic device use, distracted driving remains a major safety concern for DC drivers. The DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King are dedicated to helping those injured in distracted driving accidents obtain the compensation they deserve.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any object or action that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. The distraction need not be for an extended period to be dangerous. According to the NHTSA, taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds while going 55 miles per hour is long enough to cover the length of a football field. Common distracted driving behaviors include:
- Applying makeup
- Changing the music
- Eating and/or drinking
- Engaging in deep thought
- Opening the glove compartment
- Retrieving an item from the floor/back seat
- Talking on the phone
- Talking to passengers
- Using a navigation system
Types of Driving Distractions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) place driving distractions in the following categories:
- Visual: Distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road
- Manual: Distractions that take a driver’s hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: Distractions that take a driver’s mind off driving
Although texting while driving is especially dangerous, any distraction can prove fatal. The CDC estimates that each day in the U.S., nine people are killed in distracted driving accidents. However, this number is likely much higher since distracted driving accidents are often underreported and can be difficult to prove.
Under Washington, DC’s distracted driving laws, it is illegal to use an electronic device while driving unless it is equipped with a hands-free accessory. This means that drivers are prohibited from texting unless they use technology that allows them to keep both hands on the wheel. Those who violate distracted driving laws in DC may face fines of up to $1,000 and other legal liabilities.
There are certain exceptions to the hands-free requirement, including the use of a cell phone to make emergency calls, the use of a cell phone by law enforcement or emergency service providers, initiating or terminating a call, or turning a cell phone on or off. Commercial driver’s license holders, such as school bus drivers, and those with learner’s permits are banned from using all electronic devices while driving, regardless of whether they are hands-free.
However, studies show that even when drivers use hands-free technology, they still put themselves and others at risk. This false sense of security can lead to catastrophic accidents. According to the National Safety Council, multitasking while driving is nearly impossible because the human brain cannot adequately perform both tasks simultaneously.
Steps to Take After an Accident
After you are involved in a car accident, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Car accident victims in DC may obtain compensation from their no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurer. However, those who suffer serious injuries in distracted driving accidents may be eligible to recover additional damages from the negligent driver in a personal injury claim. Laws on this vary by state, therefore it is important for those injured to seek the counsel of a qualified car accident attorney in their local area.
DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Victims of Distracted Driving Accidents
If you were injured in a distracted driving accident, the DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King can help. We know what it takes to file successful claims against distracted drivers and other negligent parties. Conveniently located in Washington, DC, we represent clients throughout DC and Maryland. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 202-331-1963.