As technology advances, new trends in unsafe driving habits emerge, endangering everyone from motorists to pedestrians on the roads. This problem is particularly apparent with the current mode of communication in vogue – texting. In recent years, texting while driving has become a growing epidemic, leading to many injuries and fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents.
Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it involves three different types of distraction. In order to read or compose a text message, the motorist must take his or her eyes off the road, leading to a visual distraction. In addition, a manual distraction occurs, as the driver must remove a hand from the wheel in order to hold the cellphone. Finally, the motorist must focus his or her cognitive efforts on reading and understanding the text message, rather than paying attention and reacting to incidents on the road.
The effects of this common type of distraction on the road have been seen in Illinois and across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,092 people died in motor vehicle accidents that involved a distracted driver in 2010. In addition, another 416,000 people sustained injuries due to distracted driver accidents.
A study of distracted driving conducted by Virginia Tech explains the reasons for the high fatality and injury rates. The study found that drivers who send or receive text messages while on the road are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than non-distracted drivers.
Illinois has joined a number of other states in implementing a ban on all texting while driving. Recently, Governor Pat Quinn signed a no texting while driving pledge, due to the high number of Illinois automobile accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by distracted drivers.
Law enforcement officers hope the ban will deter drivers from engaging in this risky behavior. An Illinois state police officer indicated officers across the state will be looking for telltale signs of driver distraction, including driving above or below the speed limit and swerving into other lanes. Fines are imposed on drivers who are caught texting while driving.
Thus far in 2012, there have been over 700 fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents on Illinois’ roads. Nationwide in 2010, 18 percent of motor vehicle crashes were caused by distracted driving.
People who have been injured or families who have lost a loved one due to a distracted driver accident have a right to receive damages to account for their losses. For those who have sustained injuries due to such an accident, they may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other non-economic losses. For families who have lost a loved one, while no compensation will replace the terrible loss, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advocate on their behalf. In the wake of a distracted driver accident, consulting with a skilled Chicago personal injury attorney will ensure the rights of the injured party are protected.
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