Even though distracted drivers who cause accidents may face the criminal penalties of Indiana’s laws, this doesn’t help the innocent victims who were injured or whose property was damaged in the crash. You may have lost income as a result of the accident and be facing mounting medical expenses and other bills. A civil suit against the distracted driver could put you on the road to justice.
“Distracted driving” is a term that has come into common usage in the last several years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines it as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.”
Any number of things can take our attention away from the road:
- Eating or drinking
- Dealing with children or pets
- Consulting maps or GSP navigation systems
- Adjusting the radio
- Watching videos
- Talking to passengers
- Applying makeup.
According to the NHTSA, in 2011, motor vehicle crashes across the country involving a distracted driver killed 3,331 and injured 387,000. Viewed only from a statewide perspective, the statistics are just as alarming. In the state of Indiana, distracted driving contributed to more than 9,000 motor vehicle accidents in 2011, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
But a particular form of distraction has become a factor in increasing numbers of distracted driving accidents, and that’s talking or texting on the cell phone. Of the 9,000 Indiana accidents in 2011 attributed to distracted driving, more than 1,000 involved the use of a cell phone.
When the cell phone is used for sending or receiving a text message, the driver’s eyes are diverted for an average of 4.6 seconds, the NHTSA says. In that length of time, a car traveling at 55 mph will have traveled 100 yards, or the length of a football field. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that texting behind the wheel makes a driver 23 times more likely to be in a crash.
Indiana is one of the states in which it is illegal to text while driving. This includes typing, transmitting, or reading email or text messages. Violators can face fines of up to $500. In addition, new drivers are prohibited from using cell phones in any manner while driving.
When others breach their duty, we keep ours.
Under the law, distracted driving involving the use of an electronic device behind the wheel may be considered reckless driving or negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Parties who have suffered injury or property damage or the loss of a loved one have a right to be made financially whole.