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Car Accident Injuries From Distracted Drivers

For years, it seemed as though the greatest threat that you faced on Los Angeles roads was from drunk drivers. With the advent of cell phone technology, an entirely new class of dangerous motorist was introduced: the distracted driver. The statistics are tragic: according to 2018 NHTSA data 2,841 lives were lost in the U.S. due to distracted driving. Another 400,000 are estimated to have been injured by distracted drivers. Yet while cell phones have seemingly been portrayed as the only form of driver distraction, there are plenty of other things that people on the road can do to take their attention away where it should be and consequently put you and others at risk.

The Auto Alliance (working in conjunction with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) recognizes three forms of driving distractions:

  • Visual
  • Manual
  • Cognitive

Visual distractions are anything that takes your eyes off the road ahead of you. Manual distractions are tasks that require you to take one (or sometimes both) of your hands off the wheel. Finally, cognitive distractions are the things which take your attention and focus away from the road while driving.

Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving certainly hits every one of these categories, yet so do so many other activities, such as eating, drinking, talking to a passenger, reading a map, or applying makeup. The trouble is that few people see those as distractions. That is likely due to the assumption that such tasks are seemingly second nature to some. However, when put under the proverbial microscope, these activities may not seem as mindless as you may think.

Further information shared by the AA-AAOS shows that those who do something as simple as eating and drinking while driving are almost 4 times as likely to be involved in an accident. Thus, if you are involved in a collision, you may want to have authorities check for signs of distractions in the responsible driver’s vehicle.

Tech Innovations Have Both Helped and Hurt

Many advances in technology make life better and less dangerous for many California residents. However, due to the increased use of cell phones and other fancy high-tech gadgets, drivers face more distractions while behind the wheel than ever before. In fact, some of this technology, such as dashboard features, could do more harm than good and lead to a higher chance of car accidents.

A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety examined this issue and found that the features now standard in many vehicles, such as built-in GPS systems and DVD players, significantly increase the chance of distraction. This study found that voice-controlled or touch-operated navigation systems can distract motorists for up to 40 seconds at a time.

Tech & Innovations Helping Reduce Distracted Driving

Cell phone blocking apps are a helpful and ironclad way to stop cell phone use distracted driving. The basic blocking app prohibit the sending of texts while in motion as well as the initiation of a cellular call. More advanced app features are capable of stopping audio features, monitoring vehicle speeds and any rapid deceleration or stops. Most apps still allow 911 emergency communication in the event of an accident or other dire situation. There is even a ‘Just Drive’ pledge to encourage drivers to commit to driving distraction-free.

Consumer Reports also has a comprehensive list of safety innovations and technology designed to reduce distracted driving and reduce the damage when an operator drives distracted. Some examples of these include:

  • Forward-Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Lane-Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA)

Apple iPhones running iOS 11 or later also include a ‘Do Not Disturb’ driving mode which silences text messages and can send a canned response automatically so your friend or family member know to wait until you’re off the road. Android devices also have various implementations of a driving mode, with Google gearing up to roll out ‘Google Assistant Driving mode’ in the last months of 2020.

Tech & Innovations Hurting The Goal of Safer CA Roads

The results of the study by the AAA Foundation indicate that newer models of cars are more likely to be distracting than even vehicles just a few years old. Additionally, men are apparently more likely to be distracted than women. Often drivers are more distracted than they realize, and even just a few seconds of distraction can lead to a driver traveling the length of a few football fields without looking up.

Cell phone integration with car technology may seem like a solution, but in fact these additions can still create the type of distractions that slow reaction times and move your attention away from the road, leading to an accident. The important thing to remember is that while these integrated devices might be safer than checking a text on your phone, they are still a distraction and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

A study by the U.K. Transport Research Laboratory compared how smartwatches distract motorists, versus smartphones. It appears that smartwatches are even worse. The U.K. study concluded that being distracted by a smartphone delays a driver’s reaction to an emergency on the road by 2.52 seconds. To compare, phones delayed study participants’ reaction time by 1.85 seconds.

Relying too much on driver assistance technology can also lead to unsafe motor vehicle operation. Many drivers aren’t aware of the full capabilities or limitations of automotive technology like blind spot monitoring or forward collision warning. So they let themselves get distracted thinking the technology is keeping them safe instead of their attention and experience. “New vehicle safety technology is designed to make driving safer, but it does not replace the important role each of us plays behind the wheel,” notes Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Holding Reckless Distracted Drivers Accountable

California drivers and passengers who suffer serious injuries in distraction-related accidents have the right to financial recovery. It is possible to hold distracted drivers accountable for harm caused in accidents, and those hurt in these types of car accidents have every right to consult a personal injury attorney.

In a past blog post, we outlined a new device that could be vital for police in the future, called “the textalyzer.” The device was created due to current limitations on how the police prosecute and collect evidence for car accidents where a driver was using his or her cellphone. It was very difficult to access those phone records to get the evidence necessary to prove someone was texting while driving or using their cellphone while driving. While there have been privacy concerns around the textalyzer and similar tech, law enforcement and injury attorneys continue improving methods to prove distracted driving in legal cases.

 An Attorney Who Can Help

Trusted and trial-tested Los Angeles Attorney Scott J. Corwin can help you hold a distracted driver accountable for an accident and the litigation that comes from it.

“We’ve helped victims of reckless California drivers engaging in every imaginable form of distracted driving. Whether you’re injured by someone texting and driving, fiddling with a smart infotainment system, eating or otherwise not paying attention to the road, we can help with your path to recovery.” Notes founding attorney Scott J. Corwin.

Being injured in these accidents can be physically and emotionally devastating. It is devastating when someone else causes you or a family member harm out of sheer ignorance and negligence. There is also a financial cost to these wrecks, with huge medical debt and property damage being part of the unfortunate equation.

Man in car texting and driving distracted