Have You Been Injured by a Distracted Driver in Chicago?
The Chicago Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers at Abels & Annes are very familiar with the bad habits that cause crashes:
- Phone Calls
- Checking email
- Deciding what music to listen to
- Catching up on news
- Posting updates on social media sites
- Getting directions for where you are going
- Viewing advertisements and videos
Keeping up on all of the activities that technology places at our fingertips is distracting. Drivers are often making the dangerous—and in some cases deadly—mistake of using their smartphones to undertake these activities while they are driving.
Cell phones are one of the primary sources of distracted driving. They can be used by drivers for chatting or texting with friends, checking emails, or consulting a map.
But there are other activities that can distract a driver from concentrating on the road. For example:
- Electronic billboards
- Eating fast-food
- Applying makeup
- Finding a better radio station
- Adjusting the A/C system
- Talking with passengers
No matter which way you look at it, driving is serious business. Sending a text takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 MPH, you would travel the length of a football field with your eyes off the road. When a driver is texting or reading an email and gets into a crash, that accident is inexcusable.
How Often Do Cell Phones Cause Car Accidents?
Although fast food and chatty car-mates have been around for 50 plus years, cell phones have not. So, it is only in recent years that the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency has sought to compile statistics on distractions. The NHTSA found that in 2018 alone, distracted driving was the cause of:
- 400,000 accident injuries
- 1,730 driver deaths
- 605 passenger fatalities
- 400 pedestrian deaths
- 77 bicyclist fatalities
- 2,841 total accident deaths
Further, the NHTSA says that in 2017 that:
- 2.9 percent of drivers were distracted by cell phones
- 9 percent of all fatal crashes were related to distractions
- 229 teens ages 15-19 were killed in distracted driving accidents
NHTSA leads the national effort to save lives by preventing this dangerous behavior. Get the facts, get involved, and help us keep America’s roads safe.
What Are the Distracted Driving Laws in Illinois?
State lawmakers are well aware of the use of cell phones by drivers and their involvement in accidents. Accordingly, nearly every state has enacted some type of regulation regarding cell phone use behind the wheel.
In Illinois, current law prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones, texting or using other forms of electronic communication while driving. However, if you are age 19 or older, you use Bluetooth or hands-free devices.
You can only use a cell phone that is not hands-free when you are:
- Parked on the shoulder of the road
- Stopped due to a traffic obstruction and your vehicle is in neutral or park
- Reporting an emergency situation
Further, cell phone use is illegal for all bus drivers and drivers under the age of 19, and for all drivers while in a school zone or in a highway construction zone.
How Often Are Teens Involved in Distracted Driving Accidents?
Yet despite these laws, accidents caused by texting and talking continue to happen. Sadly, the culprits are disproportionately younger drivers.
Drivers under 25 have grown up using cell phones. They have an unreasonably optimistic view of their capabilities in terms of driving safely while using a cell phone for texting or talking.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 16 percent, or about one-sixth, of all distracted driving crashes involve drivers under 20 years of age. But of course, they are not the only ones guilty of infractions.
In a survey of all U.S. drivers, 69% report using their cell phone for calls while driving within the 30 days before the survey. Further, 31% report that they had read or sent text or email messages at least once while driving within the 30 days before the survey.
It is heartbreaking when you suffer serious injuries or someone you love loses their life in a vehicle accident. But it can be even worse to learn that the driver did not just make an unfortunate mistake, but was behaving recklessly by purposely diverting his or her attention away from driving to make a phone call or to send a message.
How to Avoid a Distracted Driving Accident
Getting into a distracted driving accident can mean severe injuries, a mountain of debt, and mental and financial stress. The tips below can help you to avoid a distracted driving accident.
- If you need to eat while in the car, make sure you pull over to eat your food, or eat in the parking lot of the restaurant. Eating while driving can be incredibly distracting. Many people commonly eat while driving because they are late or because they don’t understand the danger. However, thousands of accidents occur each year because of distracted driving while eating.
- Before you start driving, make sure everything in your car is ready for your trip. Have your destination plugged into your phone so you don’t have to type it in while you’re driving. Put on your favorite Spotify playlist and set the A/C the way you like it before hitting the road. Not messing with your phone or the settings in your car can help avoid driving while distracted.
- When driving with passengers, let them help you with anything that may distract you from the road. This includes answering your texts, changing the radio station, reading you directions, or even adjusting the A/C. If there’s another person in the car, there’s no reason for you to be driving with all of those distractions.
- Turn your cell phone on silent and put it away when you are driving. Here, you won’t be tempted to respond to any texts that may come through.
- Overall, don’t be afraid to pull over to deal with any distractions that may come up while you’re driving. If you need to take a phone call, check an important text, finish a meal, or even look for something in your car, it’s much safer to do it on the side of the road and it only takes a second to pull over and handle it.
Types of Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted driving accidents can occur when operating any type of vehicle, not just a car. Distracted driving can cause injuries in motorcycle accidents, biking accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, and of course car accidents.
Passenger cars are one of the most common places distracted driving occurs. Distracted driving accidents occur when one of the motorists is driving while distracted, such as texting or eating. Distracted driving is very dangerous. In 2018, it claimed 2,841 lives, including 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists.
Motorcyclists can be responsible for distracted driving, no different than the driver of a car. Motorcyclists can be just as tempted to check their phone or adjust the settings on their bike while riding. This can be extremely dangerous, especially because of the unique challenges that come with riding a motorcycle. Distracted driving while operating a motorcycle is a hazard for both the rider and their passenger, as well as other vehicles on the road.
It’s incredibly dangerous for a commercial truck driver to be distracted because of the size of their vehicles. Truckers spend a lot of their time behind the wheel, so it can become commonplace for them to be distracted. They simply drive so often that they get too comfortable behind the wheel and allow themselves to become distracted. Accidents caused by distracted truck drivers can cause severe injuries because of the force involved in these types of accidents. Truck drivers may be distracted by lack of sleep, texting, talking on the phone, checking their route, or eating.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
A distracted driver can easily crash into a pedestrian or cyclist if they’re not paying attention to their surroundings when going through an intersection, passing over a crosswalk, or while driving too close to the bike lane. If a driver runs a red light or doesn’t stop at a stop sign, or if they simply don’t see a pedestrian or cyclist because of their distractions, they could cause serious injuries in a crash.
Ridesharing companies like Uber or Lyft require their drivers to use their phones while driving. This can cause a serious hazard for other drivers on the road. It can be incredibly dangerous and can cause harm to their passenger or the occupant of another car if an accident were to occur.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you’re likely stressed about how you’re going to pay your medical bills or if you’re going to be able to make up the wages that you lost while you were off work. Not only do car accidents cause physical injuries, but they can cause severe stress and mental health problems as well, because of the trauma associated with getting into an accident. An experienced car accident attorney can help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Compensation falls into two different main categories, economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover monetary losses, like medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and any other direct costs you may have incurred because of your injuries.
Non-economic damages are more subjective and aren’t based on a specific monetary value. For non-economic damages you can receive compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and any permanent injury or disfigurement you may have suffered. To calculate these losses, your attorney will use their experience, past jury verdicts, the severity of your injuries, and your prognosis to help determine value.
There’s also a third category of damages called punitive damages, but they are rare in most personal injury cases. If your accident involved gross negligence, such as someone driving while drunk, you may be entitled to further compensation as a way to punish the at-fault party and prevent them from committing the same act again in the future. But again, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases.
Can Distracted Driving Affect my Settlement?
In order to get proper compensation for your injuries, your attorney must be able to prove that your accident was caused by a defendant’s negligence, such as distracted driving, and that their actions caused your injuries. Because distracted driving is a choice and the driver chooses to make the conscious decision to text, eat, or otherwise drive while distracted, this will go a long way toward proving negligence.
Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you maximize your compensation by allowing them to use their experience to negotiate with the insurance companies. The goal is to get you the compensation that you deserve as an accident victim.
Contact a Chicago Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
The Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. have extensive experience representing the victims of car accidents. It’s our business to pursue negligent drivers. Especially those drivers who willfully disobey traffic laws specifically designed for their own safety and the safety of other users of the road.
Whether an accident victim is a driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist, we are here to help. If you have been injured in a crash, contact the distracted driving accident lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. Call (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation, or contact us online today.