In 2017, the Legislature made it illegal to text while driving. The schedule of fines shows how serious the lawmakers are about this deadly epidemic: First offense, $25; second offense, $50; third and subsequent offenses, $75. Compare these fines to the $300 fine for littering. Litter does not kill, but distracted drivers do. It is doubtful that a fine of $25 will change behavior.
Dangers of Distracted Driving in Alabama
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015 distracted drivers killed 3,477 people and injured 391,000. During daylight hours each day, 660,000 people text while driving. That is almost as many as attended all Alabama home games in 2016. These people are 23 times more likely to be in an accident than non-texting drivers, according to the Alabama DOT’s Drive Safe Alabama campaign to reduce traffic deaths.
Most Common Distractions While Driving
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 Player
- Reading or posting on social media
Distracted Driving Accident Lawsuits Have Been Successful in Alabama and Nationwide
In 2016, a Montgomery County jury awarded nearly $1.3 million to a man who suffered life-threatening and permanent injuries in an accident caused by a driver distracted by a work-related phone call.
In 2014, a Jefferson County jury awarded $525,000 to two men severely injured by a driver who was distracted by his cell phone.
In 2014, a permanently-injured Texas man received a $3.35 million settlement after his pickup was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler with its driver on his cell phone.
In 2012, a Texas Jury awarded a woman $21 million for her permanent injuries caused when a Coca-Cola truck driver on his cell phone rammed into her vehicle.
In 2010, in South Carolina survivors of two bicyclists killed when a woman driving on her cell ran them over settled for $5 million.
Unfortunately, more deaths and more litigation may occur before the Alabama Legislature increases the penalties sufficiently to deter distracted drivers.
Auto Insurance Companies May Raise Rates for Distracted Drivers
Insurance companies are developing apps for smartphones which will monitor usage on the road. Insurance companies will likely increase rates for drivers who use their phones while driving. In addition, according to the Wall Street Journal, some insurance companies’ income is reportedly decreasing because of larger and more frequent claims arising out of distracted-driver accidents which likely will bring rate increases.
Tips To Do Your Part To Reduce The Distracted Driving Epidemic
- Use your cell phone for emergency situations only and pull off the road if possible.
- If you are drowsy, pull off the road.
- You should limit the number of passengers, as well as the level of activity, inside the car.
- Do your multi-tasking outside the car.
- Take your time driving. The entire object is to keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road.
Experienced Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, contact the experienced accident attorneys at Clay, Massey & Associates. Give us a call at 251-433-1000 or click the Live Chat link on our site to schedule a FREE initial consultation. We are available for hospital or home visits if you are unable to come to us!