These days, everyone is trying to multitask — listening to a podcast while going for a run or responding to emails while you’re in a meeting. We often think of our multitasking habits as time-saving, but that mentality can be deadly when it comes to driving.
Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents are responsible for thousands of accidents and injuries each year. If you find yourself in this situation, the Austin distracted driving accident lawyers at Pastrana & García Injury Law are here to help you seek legal justice for your injuries and damages.
What Causes Distracted Driving Accidents?
Driving accidents caused by inattention can be just as deadly as drunk or drowsy vehicle accidents. These sorts of accidents can be the result of the driver:
- Texting on a phone or other hand-held device
- Calling someone or leaving a voicemail
- Sending an email
- Using social media
- Trying to look for directions
- Changing the channel on the radio
- Being distracted by unruly passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to other passengers
Even allowing your mind to wander is a form of distracted driving. Many of these activities (like talking or listening to music) are considered commonplace when driving, but the division of attention at the wrong moment can be deadly. While everyone can do their part to reduce these accidents, our lawyers know the extent of damages and injuries that distracted driving can cause.
Damages Caused by Distracted Drivers
Hundreds of thousands of distracted driving injuries are reported yearly. Injuries caused by distracted drivers can be incredibly severe and include:
- Concussions, or other traumatic brain injuries, which can be a long-lasting or permanent result of a distracted driver.
- Whiplash, spinal cord injuries, and back issues (like herniated discs) are painful injuries that can take weeks, months, or years to heal.
- While often reparable, broken bones inhibit those experiencing them from engaging in their everyday routines and can leave permanent nerve damage or scarring.
- Internal bleeding or organ ruptures can be fatal if not caught immediately after an accident.
- Psychological damage can accompany a severe crash, making it difficult for the person experiencing those issues to resume daily life.
Of all the causes of vehicle accidents, distracted driving is one of the most preventable. Paying attention to the road could eliminate thousands of injuries and many hours spent healing.
We know how difficult it is to recover after traumatic injuries, which is why our team is here to support you after your accident. Your Austin distracted driving accident attorneys can help you recuperate compensation for your medical bills—reach out to us today to get your questions answered.
Types of Distracted Driving Accidents
A distracted driver puts more than just their safety on the line; they’re putting everyone else on the road at risk through their behavior. Distracted drivers can be responsible for the following:
- Head-on crashes
- Driving someone else off the road, even if no contact is made
- Rear-ending another vehicle
Collisions with bicyclists or pedestrians are also common; as of 2019, the CDC reported that a pedestrian or bicyclist is nearly 1 in 5 fatalities involving distracted drivers.
Statistics of Distracted Driving Accidents
In 2021, 3,522 people were killed in distracted driving accidents across the country, which was nearly 400 more people than the previous year. Texas had over 300 deaths alone in the past year from distracted driving. These are astronomical numbers that more careful behavior could prevent. But the fatality numbers are nowhere near the injury rate of distracted driving accidents. In fact, Forbes, reporting from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wrote that over 324,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes. These crashes can leave those involved with thousands, if not millions, in medical bills.
While no age group is exempt from responsibility when driving while using mobile or hand-held devices, teens have disproportionately higher use of cell phones than other age groups; however, in 2020, drivers aged 35 to 44 had the highest number of fatal crashes for distracted driving in general. The National Safety Council also suggests that distracted driving may be underreported in some states, as data collection at crash sites is not uniform across the U.S. These statistics could be higher, and more focus from drivers needs to occur to keep our roads safe.
Many groups are working hard to end distracted driving to keep our roads safer. As of 2023, 49 states (Texas included) have banned texting and driving. Still, distracted driving fatalities have only decreased by 1% since 2016. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go.
The Danger of Cell Phones
Cell Phones have become commonplace in this day and age—for stranded motorists, it’s a lifeline. However, using cell phones to text has deadly consequences. In 2021, cell phone usage accounted for 11.7% of distracted driving fatalities. While Texas city laws govern cell phone usage (meaning that depending on where you’re driving, the regulations surrounding cell phone calls when driving change), the following rules remain common, as per the Texas Department of Transportation:
- All texting while driving is banned
- It’s illegal to use cell phones in a school zone
- Drivers younger than 18 may not use cell phones at all when driving
Knowing what rules apply to the cities you’re driving through is best practice. However, regardless of the varying laws surrounding talking on your cell phone, it’s best to set any hand-held devices down and silence them when driving to avoid the temptation of responding.
Who’s at Fault in a Distracted Driving Accident?
Distracted drivers are responsible for their lack of attention to the road—but remember that your actions as the other person involved in the accident can also be considered as contributory to a collision. Texas laws follow the comparative negligence statute, which states that anyone who is more than 50% responsible for an accident cannot claim damages. Actions that might lessen the compensation you can receive for your accident may include:
- Changing lanes or turning without signaling
- Not following traffic signals or signs
- Driving too close to another vehicle (tailgating)
- Any other unsafe or illegal driving practices
Additionally, if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist, you need to stay alert. Ensure you’re following all walking and biking rules, and be especially careful at intersections, which are one of the most common places for accidents to occur. Keep your distractions to a minimum (avoid looking at your cell phone while walking or listening to music while biking) to ensure maximum alertness. The extra seconds you have from being aware could save your life.
Following all road rules to the letter can help you stay safe and protect your personal injury claim. Contact our team for specific answers about your case.
Risks Associated with Distracted Driving
Apart from severe injury and death or the risk of inflicting that upon others, drivers can rack up fines for their negligent behavior. Since 2017, inattentive drivers are at risk for heavy fines of up to $99 for the first offense and up to $200 for any time after that. If you’re someone who can’t go without looking at your phone, those penalties can quickly add up.
While monetary compensation is nowhere near as important as ensuring the physical and emotional safety of yourself, your passengers, and those you share the road with, it’s hopefully a large enough deterrent to start changing the incidents of distracted driving.
How You Can Help Stop Distracted Driving
As vehicle operators, keeping the roads safe is up to you. Try the following tips to minimize distractions while driving:
- Turn your cell phone volume to low, and your text alerts off for the duration of your drive.
- Set an automatic response message on your phone to alert people who may be messaging you that you’re busy and will respond to them later.
- Avoid switching radio channels frequently, as this can cause you to lose focus on the road.
- Remind passengers not to be rowdy or noisy while you drive, especially children.
- Ask someone else to give you directions rather than trying to look them up yourself. If you get lost and are alone in the car, pull over to the side before looking up new directions.
Make wise choices while on the road, and set down any hand-held devices. Your attention to safety is essential for yourself and others. If you are involved in a distracted driving accident, our lawyers are here to help.
Contact Pastrana & García Injury Law Today
Your rights are important to us. No one should have to deal with the unjust consequences of a distracted driver. However, if you find yourself in that situation, the attorneys at Pastrana & García Injury Law will be at your side with compassion and experience.
Call our offices today at 512-474-4487 to get started on your personal injury claim. You can also contact us through our online form so we can guide you through the harrowing time after your accident.