Distracted driving is dangerous. Operating a moving motor vehicle requires your full attention; without it, you cannot drive safely. Distracted driving can lead to crashes on the road, as well as injuries or even deaths.
Even with state laws in place to ban distracting behaviors like texting or using a cell phone, distracted driving is still a problem in the United States. In 2019, 41% of drivers were distracted by their phones during daytime driving, according to data from global phone company Cambridge Mobile Telematics.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an accident involving a distracted driver, the Carr & Carr Attorneys at Law team is here to help. Our Oklahoma City car accident lawyers have extensive experience helping car accident injury victims pursue the financial compensation they deserve to heal and move forward in their lives.
Call Carr & Carr today at 866-510-0580 or contact us online for your free consultation.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving. The following behaviors are examples of distracted driving:
- Composing, sending, or reading a text
- Talking on the phone
- Using an app on your phone
- Eating food or drinking beverages
- Fiddling with the stereo, heat or air conditioning, or navigation system
- Talking to passengers in your car
- Handling children or pets in the car
These examples of distracted driving behaviors are similar to how they are described on police crash reports. Police crash reports vary across state and jurisdiction, but distracted driving is often noted as “driver distracted by” followed by the specific behavior, such as “by other occupant(s)” or “while manipulating cellular phone.”
Distracted driving comes in many forms and can be very dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that texting takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which, if driving at 55 mph, is like “driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
Who is at Risk?
Sleep-related crashes are most common in young people, especially men, adults with children, and shift workers.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2002 poll:
- Adults between 18-29 are much more likely to drive while drowsy compared to other age groups
- Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving.
- Adults with children in the household are more likely to drive drowsy than those without children.
- Shift workers are more likely than those who work a regular daytime schedule to drive to or from work drowsy at least a few days a month.
- Sleep deprivation increases the risk of a sleep-related crash; the fewer people sleep, the greater the risk.
How Much Sleep is Enough?
According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.
Common Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving:
- Yawning or blinking frequently.
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven.
- Missing your exit.
- Drifting from your lane.
- Hitting a rumble strip.
How to Help Avoid Drowsy Driving:
- Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a day, while adolescents need at least 8-9 hours.
- Develop good sleeping habits such as sticking to a sleep schedule.
- If you have a sleep disorder or have symptoms of a sleep disorder such as snoring or feeling sleepy during the day, talk to your physician about treatment options.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that make you sleepy. Be sure to check the label on any medications or talk to your pharmacist.
If you believe you will be a drowsy driver, before your commute, consider an alternative way to get your destination. You can always take public transportation, rideshare, or ask a friend or family member.
How Often Does Distracted Driving Occur?
In 2018, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed as a result of distracted driving, according to the NHTSA. Among those numbers included over 1,700 drivers, around 600 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and nearly 80 bicyclists. An estimated additional 400,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving.
Out of the total number of fatal crashes in 2018, 8% were distraction-affected crashes. Distraction-affected crashes also accounted for 15% of injury crashes and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle crashes.
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office Annual Report for 2018 reported that in the previous year, over 1,300 drivers in the state were involved in serious injury crashes where distracted driving was a factor. Younger drivers ages 16 to 24 were represented significantly in this group at 464 drivers involved in fatal and serious injury crashes.
Oklahoma’s Distracted Driving Laws
In May 2015, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law a statewide ban against texting while driving. In doing so, Oklahoma became the 46th state to prohibit a distracted driving practice. The law makes texting while driving a primary offense. This means an officer can pull over a texting motorist and possibly charge them with a $100 fine.
While the law is generally known to forbid “texting while driving,” it does state that it is unlawful for a person to use a handheld device “to manually compose, send or read an electronic text message.” Before this law, texting while driving in Oklahoma was a secondary offense. The driver would have had to be stopped for a different infraction before being penalized for texting.
Oklahoma’s separate distracted driving law states that every driver “shall devote their full time and attention to such driving.” If a police officer notices a driver “driving in such a manner that poses an articulable danger to other persons on the roadway,” they can pull that driver over and issue a citation.
An Oklahoma Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help
Driving while distracted can lead to serious consequences, from a monetary fine for adult drivers to suspension or revocation of your driver’s license for drivers under 18. If distracted driving leads to a moving violation or a crash, you may have to deal with property damage, medical expenses, increase insurance rates, and legal consequences.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a distracted driving accident in Oklahoma, the Carr & Carr Attorneys at Law team can help. Contact our Oklahoma injury lawyers to begin discussing the details of your case and what options you may have to pursue financial compensation. Call the Carr & Carr office at 866-510-0580 or contact us online for your free consultation. You can also like the Carr & Carr Facebook page for more information about Oklahoma legal matters.