Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of serious and fatal accidents in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that every day more than 9 people are killed and over 1,060 injured in automotive collisions resulting from a distracted driver. When a driver is seriously injured or killed due to another driver's negligence such as being distracted by a cell phone, the victim may be entitled to compensation. In order for victims to get this compensation, however, it must be proven that the driver was indeed distracted and therefore negligently caused the accident.
In recent years, a growing cause of driver distraction has been found to be cell phone use leading some lawmakers to look into new ways to discourage and punish these drivers. A recent article in the Baltimore Sun discusses a new bill that is being proposed in Maryland that would require drivers involved in serious automobile accidents to give police certain information from their cell phone that would allow law enforcement to be able to determine whether or not the accident was caused by cell phone use while driving. Though some groups are opposed to this proposal, it would be a good way to discourage driver cell phone use and to allow victims to prove they were the victims of negligence.
Driver distraction can occur in 3 ways: visual, manual or cognitive. Visual distraction involves the driver taking their eyes off of the road. Manual distraction involves the driver taking their hands off the steering wheel and cognitive distraction involves the driver taking their mind off of the task of driving. Cell phone use in a vehicle usually involves all three of these types of distractions at once, making it especially dangerous. According to the CDC, a 2011 study on distracted driving found that 69% of drivers in the US ages 18 to 64 reported talking on their cell phone while driving within the past 30 days. Additionally, 31% of these drivers reported reading or sending text messages or emails while driving in the past 30 days.
The CDC estimates that in 2011, 3,331 individuals were killed and another 387,000 were injured in automotive crashes due to a distracted driver. Many of these distractions were caused by cell phone users. While it is illegal in many states including New Hampshire to operate a handheld cellular device while driving a vehicle, many drivers continue to do so anyway. Without the availability of cell phone records proving otherwise, drivers who cause injury due to texting or using the Internet on their phone can easily deny their actions to police when involved in a serious car accident.
It remains to be seen whether this Maryland bill will be passed or not. However, the fact that lawmakers are realizing that this is a problem shows the danger that distracted drivers pose to the public. If you have been injured in a car accident due to a distracted driver in New Hampshire, contact an injury attorney right now to find out more about your right to compensation.