Have You Been Injured by a Texting Driver in Chicago?
Distracted driving has become more common as cell phones become a greater part of our lives. What usually could have waited now seems more pressing than ever. Texting while driving is one of those distractions that is especially dangerous since it takes the driver’s mind and eyes off the road. Not paying attention for even a few seconds can result in serious and fatal consequences.
Texting while driving can cause serious collisions that result in severe injuries. These accidents can cause brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck and back trauma, and other types of other catastrophic injuries that can devastate your life. These injuries can be incredibly expensive and stressful, resulting in medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Texting may be one of the most popular forms of distracted driving, but it’s not the only type. In fact, anything that takes your focus off the road can be considered a form of distracted driving.
How Distracted Driving Has Changed Over the Years
It is amazing what people will do in their vehicles—while they are supposed to be driving:
- Putting on makeup
- Tying a tie
- Putting on or taking off a sweater or jacket
- Rubber-necking at an accident on the side of the road
- Changing radio stations
- Chatting with passengers
- Reaching for something on the ground
Technology Use is a Cause of Distracted Driving
Most of these activities have been distracting drivers since the invention of the car itself. But the rise in smartphone usage now means that we have another distraction. And it seems that technology only gets more distracting over time.
The way that we use our phones has changed dramatically over the years. Not long ago in the early 2000s, people were talking about the dangers of talking on the phone while driving. Now, we face a growing problem as our phones have seemingly become more and more attached to our hands at all times.
One of the more recent distractions our phones provide is massively popular and addictive social media apps like TikTok.
TikTok is a phone app that features user-generated content that is short and catchy. Not only are people using TikTok as a form of entertainment when they should be focused on the road, but some creators on the app are also filming video while driving. It would only take five minutes of scrolling on TikTok to find a video of someone talking to their audience while driving. Not only does that mean that the driver is not focused on the road, but they presumably are also holding the phone up and looking at themselves on the screen. This may seem like a niche example, but the app has 1 billion users. That means more than 10% of the world’s population is active on TikTok.
Other modern distractions include the use of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram while driving. Many people think it’s okay to check their notifications, swipe around to see what their friends are up to, or read a quick post while they’re stopped at a red light. This behavior can quickly evolve into doing these same tasks while actively driving.
Examples of Distracted Driving Accidents
Not only can drivers engage in these activities, but they too often do—and, frequently, with tragic results. Here are several examples of distracted driving cases in the news:
- A woman was paying her bills via her handheld device while driving. She slammed into a line of stopped cars, killing the driver in front of her. She went to prison for vehicular manslaughter.
- On Ewing Avenue in Chicago, a 70-year old man got into a fender-bender one morning. He got out of his car to inspect the damage and to call 911 when he was hit by a passing car. The at-fault driver was on Facebook at the time of the accident.
- A 77-year old woman was fatally hit in a head-on collision by an 18-year-old girl who swerved over the centerline. The young woman’s phone records indicated that she sent and received a series of 15 text messages in the period immediately preceding the accident. The teen then had to face gross negligence and vehicular homicide charges.
- A woman was texting while driving and hit a drain pipe, flipping her car several times before she got pinned in the overturned car against a tree. The car caught fire and she was trapped. Although she survived, she had burn injuries over 70 percent of her body and had over 30 surgeries as a result. She now speaks out against texting and driving.
- A teenager in Kansas crashed and flipped her vehicle while texting the single letter “k”. The text never got sent, and the teen died days later from injuries related to the accident.
- A woman struck a seven-year-old boy who was walking to the park and dragged him for 20 feet while she was texting and driving. The child spent almost five months in the ICU (intensive care unit) and was later discharged with his lower body paralyzed.
- A teenager in North Carolina veered under a logging truck while texting and driving and was immediately killed. Her mother now uses her daughter’s death as a way to spread awareness about the dangers of texting while driving.
Many drivers who cause accidents because of texting while driving—and live to talk about it—often express regret about their behavior.
Distracted Driving Leads to Catastrophic Injuries such as Paralysis
In one story, a woman was driving, arguing with her boyfriend, and listening to music all at the same time. She can remember exactly what song was playing and how her accident happened. A squirrel ran out into the road, she panicked, and she flipped her car when swerving out of the squirrel’s path. She didn’t have enough time to properly respond to the situation because of how distracted she was. The accident left her paralyzed and unable to walk.
She later said, “It doesn’t look like it, but I was very fortunate in my crash. I’m still here today. I didn’t hurt anyone else. If I would have hurt someone, I don’t think I would have the same outlook as I do now.”
It’s important that we look at these examples and truly pay attention to these drivers’ remorse. Drivers who have caused or received serious injuries, or caused another person’s death, because of a simple text that could have waited immediately regret their decisions. Some even begin to share their stories with a wider audience in hopes of spreading awareness about distracted driving.
But despite these advocates for change—people who have experienced it first-hand—there are those who continue to text and drive and cause accidents because of their distracted driving.
The National Safety Council estimates that about 24 percent of all traffic crashes are due to motorists texting or speaking on their cell phones. That is the equivalent of approximately 1.2 million accidents per year.
Texting While Driving is Illegal in Illinois
Texting while driving can be even more dangerous than drunk driving. An informal test carried out by Car & Driver Magazine put a driver behind the wheel of a car under different scenarios. They did this to find out how much these different activities affect different braking reaction times. The results were sobering:
- When the driver had no distractions and sober, it took .54 seconds to apply the brakes;
- If the driver was legally drunk (0.08% BAC), his braking distance increased by 4 feet;
- When he was reading an email, the distance was an additional 32 feet (36 feet total);
- If texting, the braking distance was an additional 24 feet (70 feet total).
It is illegal in Illinois to text and drive at the same time. Specifically, Illinois law states:
- “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send, or read an electronic message.”
Limited exceptions to the Illinois Texting Law
The only exceptions are:
- If texting to report to or communicate with emergency personnel in an emergency situation
- A hands-free device
- If the driver parks off of the roadway
- When completely stopped due to a traffic obstruction, and the vehicle gearshift is in neutral or park
Teen Drivers and Texting
The dangers of texting and operating a motor vehicle at the same time are very real. Thirteen percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 involved in car accidents admit to texting or using their cell-phones at the time of the accident. And, that is just those who admit fault.
Part of the issue is many young drivers are dramatically overconfident of their driving abilities.
- 55 percent of young adults think it is easy to text and drive at the same time
- 77 percent of them are confident that they can safely text while driving
One of the scariest parts about the above statistics is how inexperienced teen drivers are. And while they are warned about the risks of texting while driving, some of them don’t seem to care. Teens also tend to use their cell phones more and are more active on social media sites. This combination of overconfidence, inexperience, and greater phone usage can be a deadly combination.
One can only hope that many of them will learn the truth before a tragic accident. The resulting accident can be catastrophic for both the teen driver and other innocent victims.
If you’re the parent of a teen driver, you should speak to your teen about their habits on the road. You can also look into apps that limit your teen’s ability to use their phone while driving, which can go a long way in keeping them and others on the road safe.
Texting and Driving is Not Worth the Risk
Any type of vehicle accident is unpleasant for the victims. Accidents that lead to injuries or fatalities make them even more devastating.
Sometimes accidents are almost unavoidable: icy roads, faulty brakes, low visibility from fog or rain, or a tree that has fallen across the road. However, texting accidents are completely avoidable.
There are estimates that nearly 100,000 drivers crash each year while texting. But it is not just their own lives they are risking.
When an accident is caused by the negligence of a texting driver, there are sometimes no words to describe the anguish of accident victims or their families. Especially when there are fatalities.
Can any message ever be important enough to risk an innocent person’s life?
Contact a Chicago Texting Accident Lawyer at Abels & Annes
State laws can redress the criminal aspects of such negligence and recklessness. However, it is up to individual citizens to enforce civil justice. Accident victims need to make sure that texting drivers pay for the injuries and damage they cause.
The Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes strongly feel that those who cause injuries by such behavior should answer for their negligence. We welcome the opportunity to represent plaintiffs with injuries from an accident caused by a texting driver.
At Abels & Annes, we know what our clients go through. We represent drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others who receive injuries due to negligence or recklessness.
When we take a case, we do our best to make sure that our clients receive all the compensation they deserve. Further, we try to make their lives whole again. This is especially true if a client is suffering devastating injuries, including serious and debilitating spinal and head injuries.