Distraction is a significant issue on roads throughout Connecticut. Even those who think of themselves as responsible drivers may occasionally waver as they’re enticed by cell phones, infotainment systems, food, and a myriad of other distractions. Unfortunately, even a brief moment of inattention can lead to devastation. Ensuing accidents may cause a lifetime of suffering, including physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial ruin.
Top Forms of Distraction
While we typically associate distracted driving with cell phones, it takes many other forms. These fall into three basic categories identified by the United States Centers for Disease Control: visual, manual, and cognitive. Some especially dangerous behaviors may constitute multiple types of distraction, but all are worrisome.
Drivers should keep their eyes on the road – not on cell phones, in-vehicle touch screen displays, or passengers in the front or rear seats. They should also avoid becoming distracted by local sights, such as interesting buildings, vegetation, or pedestrians. When observing their surroundings, drivers should focus on the road’s trajectory, the location of other vehicles, and any signs or lights indicating how they should proceed.
In an ideal world, all drivers would keep their hands on the wheel consistently. In reality, however, many attempt to complete other tasks with one hand while guiding the steering wheel with the other. Texting is a key area of concern, of course, but drivers also engage in a variety of other distracting activities without ever considering that they might place others at risk. These include:
- Looking at directions on smartphones
- Holding phones to chat on Facetime or WhatsApp
- Eating or drinking
- Applying makeup
- Changing radio stations
Some drivers may, at first glance, appear to be focused on the road. In reality, however, many experience significant mental distraction, which can prove just as dangerous as the visual and manual risks outlined above. During long periods behind the wheel, drivers may fall deep into thought, pondering over topics that have little to do with the task at hand: operating their vehicle responsibly and avoiding road-based risks. Cognitive distraction is more likely when drivers are tired or stressed. In such circumstances, even typically responsible drivers may be inclined to let their minds wander.
Types of Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers
Distracted driving accidents can take several forms. Many involve other vehicles, but pedestrians, bikers, and motorcyclists are also at considerable risk in a world of constant distraction. The most common types of distraction-related car accidents include:
Pedestrians are always vulnerable to drivers, who, despite the presence of crosswalks and traffic lights, often struggle to spot those traveling by foot quickly enough to avoid devastating crashes. Add distraction to the mix, and the likelihood of a collision skyrockets. Many pedestrian accidents occur while turning or approaching stop signs.
Like pedestrians, motorcyclists are highly vulnerable to drivers in conventional vehicles – especially when those drivers exhibit signs of distraction. Many motorcycle accidents occur as drivers of other cars change lanes or make left-hand turns. If distracted, they may fail to check blind spots or otherwise account for the possible presence of motorcyclists. Distracted behavior may increase the damage involved in accidents brought on by seemingly ordinary road hazards. While even those who pay attention may be vulnerable to these risks, distraction reduces the likelihood of drivers responding quickly or appropriately.
In addition to placing pedestrians and motorcyclists at risk, distracted drivers cause huge problems for other conventional motorists. Their problematic behavior can lead to a variety of crashes. Head-on collisions are unfortunately common. They often occur when distraction causes drivers to cross medians or speed through intersections. In other cases, distracted drivers may not realize that they’re traveling in the wrong direction on exit ramps or one-way streets – until it’s too late.
Sometimes referred to as “blind spot accidents, sideswipes often involve distracted drivers who neglect to check for hazards before changing lanes. In other cases, distraction may cause drivers to drift into nearby lanes, where they can easily hit other cars. In some instances, lane drift prompted by inattention may cause one or both drivers to swerve, leading to spinouts, rollovers, or other accidents.
Rollover accidents may not be particularly common, but when they occur, the impact can be devastating. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that, while rollovers constitute less than three percent of total crashes, they’re responsible for up to one-third of vehicle fatalities. Many are caused by distraction, which makes it difficult for drivers to respond to unexpected hazards or sudden changes to a vehicle’s center of gravity.
Distracted drivers take far too long to respond to common road hazards. Their behavior proves especially problematic when dealing with adverse driving conditions or stop-and-go traffic, both of which regularly lead to fender benders. These collisions are typically thought of as less severe than head-on or sideswipe accidents, but they remain serious. Ensuing injuries may prompt years of suffering for victims, many of whom experience whiplash or even concussions.
What to Do If You Are Injured by a Distracted Driver
In the aftermath of a negligence-based car accident including anything involving distraction behind the wheel – it’s important to take action immediately. If the collision results in injury, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only will this expedite your recovery, but it could also provide valuable evidence as you pursue personal injury damages. Be as thorough as possible as you disclose your symptoms – even issues that seem minor at the outset could become far more serious with time. In addition to confirming your medical status, seek help from a trusted car accident lawyer serving Hartford, New Haven, and New London, CT. Your attorney can gather extensive evidence early on, including everything from police reports to images of the accident scene. This could play a vital role in demonstrating the presence of distraction before the crash and helping you secure damages on the basis of negligence. The sooner you seek legal representation, the more likely you are to make a clear case that you’ve suffered due to someone else’s distracted driving. There is no substitute for working with a top car accident attorney in New Haven and Hartford, CT. With McCoy & McCoy on your side, you could recover damages that take not only medical bills but also lost wages and emotional distress into account. Call (860) 244-9100 or reach out online at your earliest convenience to learn more about our approach to distracted driving car accidents in CT and to schedule a case consultation.