There are many ways to be a distracted driver. You might be driving and eating or driving and chatting to friends in the back seat. You might be inching forward in a traffic jam while scanning today's newspaper or you might be paying more attention to a football game on the radio than you are to what is happening on the highway in front of you.
In hindsight vision – which we all know is 20/20 – any kind of distracted driving is pointless and short-sighted but surely no kind of distracted driving is more foolish than texting while driving. That simple impulse to look at and reply to a text on a smart phone is a growing cause of life ending or changing devastation on our nation's roads and highways.
The website Distraction.Gov provides some alarming statistics related to Distracted Driving:
- At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
- Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
- A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have exchanged multi-message text conversations while driving.
Distracted Drivers Speak Out
Unlike many other forms of traffic accident in which causation may be unclear and the careless driver refuses to acknowledge any blame, in cases where a driver has been texting and survives the accident, they are sometimes consumed by their own feelings of guilt and imprudence.
In the video below, 20 year old Liz Marks describes how her life has changed since making the fatal mistake of looking at a text while driving. Her mother comments that she was preparing for work as normal one morning, expecting the day to be just like any other, but only 12 hours later, she was gazing down at the broken body of her daughter as she lay in the ICU. Looking back now, Liz's mother advises not to send your loved ones text messages when you know they are driving and comments, “Overwhelming devastation … over a stupid text.”
Liz's life will forever be impacted by the choice she made that day – even so, she is one of the lucky ones. She lived to tell others about it and add her voice to a growing number of PSA and cautionary videos created by individuals and government organizations to raise awareness of this growing problem.
Impact of Distracted Driving on Victims
Unfortunately, even the safest most focused driver on the road is endangered by distracted driving. Those who insist on texting while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident – and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in 2012 421,000 people were hurt, and 3,328 died, in distracted driving accidents.
The use of a mobile phone while driving is illegal in both Oregon and Washington State. Those whose lives are forever changed due to the bad choices made by a negligent driver deserve compensation. This might be the result of a wrongful death case brought by the surviving family of person killed in a traffic crash or a personal injury case brought by a person or people whose injuries were caused by a distracted driver.
See here for more information on Distracted Driver Lawsuits in Oregon and Washington.