Holding Distracted Drivers Accountable for Their Actions

Getting behind the wheel of a car is one of the biggest responsibilities most people will ever have, yet many drivers fail to appreciate the dangerous machine they control. Even a small car is a few thousand pounds of metal and plastic that can travel at speeds too fast for any human to run. While we all know the dangers of driving while intoxicated, far too many drivers allow themselves to become distracted behind the wheel.

The presence of common distractions is no excuse for poor driving, and the damage that distracted drivers cause to other people can be catastrophic. That is why it is so important to hold these drivers accountable for their actions through a lawsuit, and we want to be the ones to help you do that. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a collision with a distracted driver, call the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, to speak to a Fort Collins car accident lawyer at (970) 638-8596.

Common Distractions for Drivers

There are infinite ways for a driver to become distracted while on the road. Many seasoned drivers are far too confident in their abilities, leading them to become lax and irresponsible. Typically, in our experience, the four distractions that cause the most crashes are:

  1. Getting lost in thought – Drivers become so comfortable with the process of driving that they start daydreaming while controlling several thousand pounds of machinery.
  2. Using a cell phone – The second most common distraction in fatal collisions is no surprise. Mobile phone use includes both texting and talking on the phone, and hands-free talking is still a major distraction.
  3. Paying attention to an outside event – Next up are distractions that occur outside of the vehicle. Turning the head to look at a stopped car, or to try to read a billboard, can be disastrous for the drivers ahead.
  4. Paying attention to other occupants – Other people inside the vehicle can be dangerous, especially for younger or inexperienced drivers. Carrying on a conversation can be distracting, taking a driver’s focus off the road and what’s going on around him.

The Three Kinds of Distracted Driving

When drivers are on the road, they need to be hyper-focused. At any minute, a pedestrian could cross the street, traffic could suddenly stop, or another car could make a sudden turn. In each of these scenarios, a driver must be able to respond quickly and appropriately. Distracted drivers, however, are incapable of doing either. While there are many ways a driver can become distracted, each one of these ways falls into one of three categories established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Visual distractions: Drivers should always keep their eyes on the road ahead of them, as well check the road behind and to the side periodically using their mirrors. This allows them to notice potential obstacles, and slow down and stop before hitting them. A driver who is visually distracted, however, is not looking at the road at all, and so could easily miss a pedestrian, cyclist, or other car.

Manual distractions: The steering wheel is one of the most essential parts of the car. It allows the driver to determine which way the car is going to face, which helps make turns, merge, or swerve to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, if a driver lets go of the wheel, he could lose control over the car very easily, leading to a serious collision.

Cognitive distractions: It isn’t enough for a driver to look at the road and keep her hands on the wheel, she must always be focused in on her surroundings, ready to react to any changes in traffic. Cognitive distractions, or when the driver’s mind has wandered, can be among the most dangerous. Concentrating allows a driver to react quickly and properly. Being unfocused means that the driver may not even realize there’s a problem until she has already hit another car.

Why Distracted Driving Is Dangerous

A responsible driver will slow down when he notices something in the road, whether that be a cyclist, a kid crossing the street, or other cars coming to a stop. However, distracted drivers don’t notice the obstacles in front of them, so they often don’t stop or slow down. The damage done when a car hits you at 10 mph is far less than the damage done when a car hits you at 50 mph. That is why the injuries caused by distracted drivers are so catastrophic. The most common ones include:

As devastating as these injuries are, those who survive distracted driver accidents are actually the lucky ones. Countless people are killed by distracted drivers every year. In fact, distracted drivers are a very common cause of wrongful death: when someone is killed through negligence. Pedestrians and cyclists, in particular, are at extreme risk when distracted drivers are on the road.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists Face More Risk

The people most at risk from distracted drivers are pedestrians and bicyclists. That is because, unlike people in a car, pedestrians and cyclists are completely exposed. They don’t have any walls to protect them, no seatbelts or airbags to soften the blow from a vehicle. That means the force from a collision is taken on completely by their body. The human body was not designed to take such a large amount of impact, and it could easily lead to catastrophic injuries, and, even more likely, death.

On top of that, pedestrians and cyclists don’t have the added benefit of being big or loud. A car engine or horn can be heard from some distance away. Even if a driver is distracted by his phone, he may hear the engine of the car next to him and look up to pay attention to the road again. A pedestrian crossing the street or a cyclist along the side of the road hardly makes any sound, and the little sound they do make is drowned out by loud cars. If a distracted driver is relying on his ears to stay safe, he could easily hit a pedestrian or cyclist, causing severe injuries and deep trauma and pain. When distracted drivers hurt others, then they need to be held accountable.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Call a Compassionate Attorney

Every year, new gadgets and sources of distractions inside and outside a vehicle are introduced. These devices can help drivers navigate, or entertain them to pass the time, but that is no excuse for drivers to stop paying attention to the road. Distracted drivers who harm others must be held accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver in Fort Collins, call the Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (970) 638-8596 for a free, no-obligation consultation.