What is Distracted Driving, Exactly?
- in Laws
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous things a person can do while on the road.
Generally speaking, distracted driving is driving without paying attention to the road. Instead, a driver is usually interacting with their phone, car electronics, or other passengers.
Distracted driving can, unfortunately, lead to fines, injuries, accidents, lawsuits, and in some cases, death. Distracted driving can cause someone to go to jail and leave them in serious need of a bail bond. To prevent any distractions on the road, learn about the consequences below.
Distracted Driving and the Laws That Prevent It
Even though distracted driving is a broad term that covers a variety of distracting behaviors, nearly every state has some sort of law to prevent drivers from doing it. States have punishments for distracted driving, ranging from suspension of a driver’s license to large fines.
Distracted Driving Laws
Instead of setting specific activities that declare a driver as a “distracted driver,” most states set general parameters that define a distracted driver. Below are the two main parameters that laws dictate whether or not a driver is truly distracted:
1. Impairs the driver’s ability and skill to drive safely
2. Not necessary to the operation of the vehicle
Some states actually limit certain activities that drivers can do while driving. For example, using the phone, reading, playing with pets, talking to other passengers, etc. However, limiting these kinds of behaviors in a vehicle can help prevent a driver from becoming distracted.
Cell Phone Restrictions
In the past few years, most states have placed strict mobile phone usage laws to prevent distracted driving. Some laws even prevent the use of a hands-free device for certain drivers, such as beginner drivers and school bus drivers. However, this, of course, exempts drivers from using their mobile phone for emergency calls.
Most states have laws preventing drivers from texting while operating their vehicle. However, these laws don’t only restrict cell phone, but also PDA’s and any other device that is capable of sending messages.
Getting Pulled Over
The majority of states that have banned cellphone use while driving also let law enforcement officials issue citations even if they do not notice any other violation. These laws are called primary enforcement laws. A few states have secondary enforcement laws which mean that an officer can only give drivers a citation for distracted driving if they have pulled them over for a different violation. If the cell phone ban is specifically targeted at one group, like teenage drivers, there is a greater likelihood that the state has primary enforcement laws.
Proof of Negligence and Recklessness
Though traffic tickets can be annoying, distracted driving can create far greater threats like accidents and injuries. These accidents and injuries can often lead to a lawsuit. In these lawsuits, the fact that a person was driving while distracted can increase the chances that they will be found liable for damages. If for example, an accident occurred while a driver was texting, their messages could be used to prove recklessness or negligence. In fact, determining negligence is often the deciding factor when it comes to auto injury lawsuits. This means that hard evidence of the distraction could easily sway the court.
Distracted driving can even result in issues if a non-distracted driver is at fault. In a lot of states, if a driver is using a cell phone and is hit by someone else, it could constitute contributory negligence. This could prevent a person from getting compensation for their injuries and car damages or greatly reduce the amount of the compensation. Even if someone else causes the accident, the distracted driver can still be punished.
Nowadays, authorities can determine when and how people use mobile devices. This evidence can be used to determine if a person was using their phone at the time of an accident, evidence that is very useful when it comes to lawsuits. Even in states that do not have laws prohibiting the use of a mobile device while driving, this sort of evidence can be used to prove negligence and civil liability.