Understanding The Role Of Distracted Driving In Car Accidents
Car accidents are often the result of negligence–i.e., a driver violating their duty to operate their vehicle in a safe and legal manner. If someone is injured in a car accident caused by negligence, they have the right to sue and hold the reckless driver legally accountable. This is true even in cases where the driver may not have technically broken any laws.
What Counts as Distracted Driving in Washington?
One of the more common causes of car accidents is distracted driving. This broadly refers to anything that might divert a driver’s attention from the road while operating their vehicle. Many distracted driving behaviors are, in fact, traffic infractions that can lead to a ticket or even more serious charges. But even behaviors not specifically targeted by state law can lead to an otherwise preventable accident.
Some common distracted driving behaviors include:
- Phones. Modern smartphones are basically designed to capture your attention at all times. This can prove especially problematic when driving. For that reason, Washington prohibits motorists from holding their smartphones (or other “personal electronic devices”) while driving. It is permissible to use a phone with a “hands-free” device or while parked or out-of-the-flow of traffic.
- Other devices inside the car. Even when people are smart enough to mute or turn off their smartphone while driving, there are still a number of other potential distractions in the car, such as fiddling with the stereo, GPS, thermostat, or even seat positioning. Indeed, in many cases the car itself can prove to be an even bigger distraction than even a smartphone.
- Rubbernecking. How often have you been distracted by something occurring outside of your car’s window, such as the aftermath of a traffic accident? The problem is that such “rubbernecking” can itself lead to an accident as it diverts a driver’s attention from what is going on in front of them.
- Passengers. Most of us do not exclusively travel in our cars alone. We typically have at least one passenger in the vehicle. That can lead to distraction if a driver is more focused on their conversation–or say, yelling at their kids in the back seat–than on the road.
- Other non-driving activities. For many people, their commute is when they feel the need to eat breakfast, adjust their hair and makeup, or even smoke a quick cigarette. All of these activities pose a risk as they require the driver to remove at least one hand from the wheel.
Again, many of the behaviors described above are commonplace and do not typically warrant any formal law enforcement action like a traffic citation. But if any of these distractions play a role in causing a car accident, they can be cited as evidence of the driver’s negligence. That is why it is important following an accident to identify and question any potential witnesses who can confirm a driver was somehow distracted just before a collision.
Speak with a Washington Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured in an accident caused by distracted or otherwise reckless driving, it is best to speak with an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer who can advise you of your options. Contact the Emerald Law Group today to schedule a free confidential consultation.