Distracted Driving Facts and How to Get Compensation

Drivers must always be alert to prevent crashes resulting in unintentional injury and death. As smartphones become more prevalent in the United States, distracted driving has become a major traffic safety concern. Although cell phones and navigation devices often cause distracted driving, traditional distractions, like eating and interacting with passengers, also contribute to accidents. 

Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,308 individuals perished in distraction-related crashes in 2022. There were 3,521 deaths in 2021, a decrease of about 6%. Meanwhile, distractions caused 9% of all traffic deaths in 2019. Stats indicate that 69% of drivers involved in distracted driving accidents in 2017 were male. Distracted driving causes 5% of accidents that result in fatalities, with 8% of accidents involving people aged 15 to 19 resulting in fatalities. 

What Is Distracted Driving?

A variety of visual distractions are present, such as passengers pointing something out, rubber-necking an incident outside, or even checking phones while driving. Anything that takes a driver's physical attention away from the road - eating or drinking, using a cell phone, or even a passenger moving around - is a manual distraction.

Cognitive distraction happens when a driver loses concentration at the wheel, such as being distracted by music, tiredness, or even a passenger taking over. If caught, distracted drivers will face some form of punishment, but the severity of the punishment will depend on whether an accident was caused, the driver's experience, and the distraction.

Laws on Distracted Driving

distracted driving

Distracted drivers will face different consequences depending on what state they are caught in. For example, Alabama does not currently prohibit cell phones while driving, but Arizona does. Meanwhile, a state law in Kentucky prohibits texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging while driving. However, drivers over 18 can call and use GPS devices while behind the wheel. 

Across the U.S., fines of up to $500 can also be imposed on drivers convicted of being distracted while driving. With smartphones and other devices occupying our attention more than ever, the law must update and refine its definition of distraction for drivers.

Common Types of Distracted Driving Accidents

Safe driving requires full attention to the road. When drivers divert their attention from the road to talk on their cell phones or text their friends, they risk the lives of other motorists.

The following are some of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents:

Cellphones

Using electronic devices or cell phones while driving is a major distraction. According to the NHTSA, approximately 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving. Studies have shown that looking at a cell phone for even a few seconds can result in an accident. Car accidents involving texting and driving account for 25% of crashes—one accident out of every four. 

Inexperienced Drivers

Teenagers are prone to distracted driving, regardless of their cell phones. Among teens involved in car accidents, over 21% were distracted by their cell phones while driving. According to a study by AAA, teens driving with a passenger are twice as likely to get into a car accident and five times more likely to get into a car accident with two or more passengers.

Children Distracting Drivers

family in the car

Teens aren't the only ones easily distracted. Another common distraction among drivers is parenting. Children in cars tend to distract adults behind the wheel far more than adults in cars without children. Your child's behavior can lead to disaster if you don't keep them in check.

Parents with young children in the car are 87% more likely to be distracted, which can quickly result in a car accident.

Multi-Tasking

Distracted driving is a serious safety concern.

Driving accidents often result from texting, reading messages, talking on the phone, fidgeting with navigation systems, parenthood, or eating. Distracted driving puts you, your passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk.

What to Do After a Distracted Driving Accident?

Even though taking action after a distracted driving accident may not be on your mind, you have the potential to protect your health, safety, and legal rights. The following are some steps you should take if you are involved in a distracted driving accident:

  • Contact law enforcement. Call 911 as soon as possible after a distracted driving crash. The police should be notified if the other driver was distracted before they hit you. The police will conduct an investigation and document their findings in a police report. You can use this and any evidence they preserve to help your attorney prove what happened and who was at fault if you decide to pursue legal action.
  • Collect crash evidence. Collect as much evidence as possible from the crash scene.
  • Interact with others at the scene. Get the contact information of witnesses who saw the accident. If you suspect the at-fault driver was distracted, ask witnesses what the driver did before the crash. If these individuals can provide testimony, your lawyer will be able to prepare the strongest case possible for you.
  • Consult an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can take steps to preserve evidence, which will be essential to proving that the other driver was distracted.

Seeking Damages After a Distracted Driving Accident

Compensation is due to you if a negligent driver has injured you, distracted or not. The other driver's car insurance usually covers these damages, although the insurer may shift the blame to you to escape responsibility. In such a case, your lawyer should do everything possible to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.


Here are some damages you can seek after a distracted driving accident:

  • Medical expenses. People often overlook future expenses when considering their current bills. If your injury causes chronic issues, you may incur more costs in the following months or years. Therefore, your lawyer may wish to see your current bills but may not settle the case until you have completed your treatment.
  • Loss of income or earning potential. When you miss work because of the accident, you should be compensated for the money you lost, even if you were paid sick days. If the injury has led to a permanent or chronic condition that prevents you from returning to work or working as before, you are also entitled to compensation.
  • Property damage. This process includes the repair or replacement of your car and other property damaged in the crash, such as your phone or computer.
  • Permanent disability. If you need an amputation or lose a part of your body, you have the right to receive compensation.
  • Suffering and pain. A car accident can leave you with mental and physical pain that can last for weeks or months.
  • Loss of consortium or companionship. If a loved one dies in the accident, the loss of consortium, companionship, care, advice, etc., could be claimed as damages. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be entitled to compensation for the loss of income of a deceased person.

Prepare for a Lengthy Court Case

From filing fees to expert witness fees, court costs add up quickly, and they are deducted from your final settlement. Therefore, a lengthy trial can deplete your award.

The good news is that, in most cases, you can reach a settlement outside of court. Trials are expensive for insurance companies; if they lose, they may have to pay a large settlement. During settlement negotiations, your attorney will ensure all your damages are covered and explain each offer to you.

Author - Fred Felton
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the wooden arts and crafts space, focussing on innovative wooden product design. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.

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