We all know better than to send or read text messages while driving a car—at least we should know better. Unfortunately, cell phone use continues to be a contributing factor in far too many West Virginia car accidents.
However, texting and driving is not the only kind of distracted driving that causes accidents. If you were injured in a vehicle accident because the driver of the other car was not focused on driving, you might be owed considerable damages.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Any time a driver is not 100% focused on the task of driving, he or she is likely to make a mistake that could lead to a catastrophic crash. Taking his eyes off the road for even a few seconds may cause a driver to swerve into an oncoming lane, fail to see a pedestrian crossing the street, or rear end a car stopped ahead of him.
Drivers can be distracted by a variety of factors, including the following:
- Cell phones. Trying to read or send a text or dial a phone number requires a driver to take his eyes and his hands off the wheel, even if only for a few seconds. Even when using a hands-free phone, drivers are distracted by trying to get the phone to understand commands and by the conversation they have when a call goes through.
- Eating and drinking. A driver with a fast food meal in his lap and a drink in the cup holder is not concentrating on the road in front of him. Opening wrappers, using a napkin, cleaning up spills, and digging in a bag for more food all require a driver to look away from the road.
- Passengers. Even a simple conversation with a front seat passenger can distract a driver from his surroundings. Babies and young children require attention from a parent. The excited friends of a teen driver are particularly problematic, since a newly licensed driver needs to pay extra attention to the road to avoid mistakes that could cause an accident.
- Pets. A pet that is loose in the car can create a major distraction. Climbing in the driver’s lap, barking at passing cars, or crawling around at the driver’s feet can cause a driver to lose control of the car, resulting in a catastrophic accident.
- Navigation systems. Setting a GPS requires focus and attention that should be directed at the road. Even a pre-set nav system can become a distraction when the driver “argues” with directions or is so focused on the map display that he fails to look at the road.
- Music or podcasts. Changing a program, adjusting the volume, and listening to very loud music or podcasts can all serve as driving distractions, whether the music is coming from the car entertainment system or the driver’s phone.
- Fatigue or daydreaming. A driver can be all alone in a quiet car with both hands on the wheel and still not be focused on the task of driving. When a driver becomes sleepy and lets her mind wander, miles can pass without her even noticing. If anything out of the ordinary happens during this time, she will not be prepared and could cause a crash.
What Should You Do After a Distracted Driving Crash?
When another driver’s distraction causes a crash that leaves you injured, there are no excuses. The driver at fault is responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
It can be very difficult to prove that a driver was distracted at the time of a crash, but if you suspect this is the case, tell the police officers who respond to the accident. They may be able to gather evidence, such as phone records, interviews with passengers, or pictures of items in the car. Even if the crash is not investigated until days later, it may still be possible for your attorney to prove that the other driver was distracted.
If you were injured in a distracted driving crash in West Virginia, contact attorney Ty Nestor as soon as possible. The Nestor Law Office is committed to holding distracted drivers accountable for their actions.