Distracted driving has always been an issue, but with the rise of social media and smartphones, it has reached epidemic proportions. According to statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people die every day in the United States as a result of distracted drivers, and another 1,000 people suffer injuries each day in distracted driving collisions.
While you may take the responsibility of driving seriously, other people on the road may not. The end result could be a tragic crash caused by another driver who simply wasn't paying attention to the road. When that happens, you have a right to stand up for yourself and make sure that the distracted driver is held accountable.
Report suspected distraction when first responders arrive
Many times, people will see things in the moments immediately before or after a collision that make it clear that distraction was a factor. Perhaps you could see that the other driver was arguing on the phone, texting or fiddling with the radio in the seconds immediately before the collision. Maybe you witness the driver deleting texts or trying to get rid of a phone before police arrive at the scene.
Other potential tell-tale signs could include smeared make-up whose application served as a major distraction; wet clothing due to spilled drinks; or even food stains caused by the fast food that kept the driver's focus off the road. Make sure you report these or other signs of distraction to the officers who respond to the crash. They can investigate, reviewing digital records from phones or even watch traffic camera footage to catch someone in the act.
Texting while driving is illegal in Texas
In order to reduce the number of distracted driving crashes, Texas lawmakers passed a bill, which was signed into law in June 2017. This new law specifically focuses on people who read, write or send texts while driving. Law enforcement officers can stop anyone they suspect of texting while driving, including those who have their heads down or who swerve while driving. First-time offenders can be fined up to $99, while a repeat offender could get fined as much as $200 per offense.
Sadly, this law may do little to keep people from texting or using their phones while driving. It also doesn't address any of the other common forms of distraction. If distraction played a role in a crash that resulted in severe injuries or death, law enforcement may choose to prosecute the distracted driver for the fatality. Even if criminal charges aren't brought against the distracted driver, victims can still bring a personal injury claim for medical costs and other expenses resulting from the accident.
Likewise, the family of a deceased accident victim may have legal grounds for a wrongful death claim.