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Distracted Driving Awareness Takes Spotlight in April

Male driver using smartphone to capture selfie pictures while driving.

Traffic safety experts want to get the message out this month – distracted driving puts everyone in danger on the road. That’s why this month has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to the NHTSA, “Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on our roads.”

So, just how common are distracted driving accidents, and what makes these crashes so dangerous? What can drivers do to avoid being distracted on the road? A car accident attorney at Recht Law Offices, which handles injury claims in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, explains.

How common are distracted driving accidents?

Every year, more than 3,000 people die in car accidents caused by distracted drivers, according to NHTSA accident data. And the numbers are only getting worse.

In 2021, distracted driving accidents caused 3,522 motor vehicle fatalities, according to the NHTSA’s Distracted Driving Accident Awareness Month page. In contrast, only 3,142 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2020, according to NHTSA accident data. That’s a 12 percent increase in distracted driving fatalities in just one year.

What makes distracted driving so dangerous?

Car accidents can happen in a split second, so drivers need to always pay attention behind the wheel. When they don’t, serious accidents can happen quickly because their margin for error is so slim.

Most drivers who engage in distracted driving take their eyes off the road for a full five seconds. This is especially true for drivers who write or read a text message while driving. During that five seconds, a driver can travel the entire length of a football field if they’re going 55 mph without even looking at the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Now, consider that most highways have even higher speed limits, and you have a recipe for a serious car accident caused by a driver who does not look at the road or slow down before hitting another vehicle.

What drivers are the most distracted?

Teenagers and other young drivers often get blamed for causing distracted driving accidents. However, drivers of all ages are causing collisions. The age group involved in the most fatal distracted driving accidents in 2020 was drivers between the ages of 35 and 44. This group caused 474 distracted driving traffic deaths, according to crash data.

What can drivers do to stay focused?

There are many steps drivers can take to focus their attention on the road. According to the NHTSA:

  • Turn your cell phone off while driving or put it somewhere in your car where you cannot see it or reach it.
  • If you must have your cell phone while driving, pull over if you need to read or send a text message.
  • If there’s someone else in the car, ask them to respond to all text messages and phone calls while you’re driving.
  • If you’re a passenger in a car and you notice the driver texting while driving, ask them to put down their phone or pull over. Remember, no text is worth your life.

How can a car accident lawyer help?

Personal injury claims can easily turn into complex legal cases. Even though many states have laws banning texting while driving – including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – that doesn’t mean you will automatically be financially compensated if a texting driver causes your collision.

Often, the at-fault driver will deny doing anything wrong. Their insurance company will also often try to downplay the severity of injuries and make lowball settlement offers that don't come close to covering the damages suffered by the victim. This is why you need an attorney who knows the law in your state and won’t back down from a fight with the insurance company.

Our car accident lawyers at Recht Law Offices can help you every step of the way. Founded in 1952, our law firm has decades of legal experience fighting for the rights of injury victims and their families in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Get a law firm that gets results. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation. With offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Weirton, West Virginia, we handle cases in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. We also work on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay nothing unless we secure a financial settlement or verdict for you.

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