Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of car accidents. You are now more likely to be hit by a distracted driver in and around Las Vegas than a drunk driver or a speeding driver.
Of course, distracted driving is nothing new. It’s been around ever since driving a car itself. Old distractions are still around, like chatting with the passengers, listening to a radio show, munching on a burger, swatting a bee or a fly and staring at something outside that is more of interest than the road itself. But the number of vehicles on U.S. highways, including Nevada highways is far higher than ever. Concentration is needed more than ever with all that extra traffic. There are many more new distractions to add to the old ones. There are GPSs to adjust and monitor and cell phones to use for texting or making and receiving voice calls. There are even those drivers who spend their time checking on their Facebook friends, uploading photos on to Instagram and tweeting messages. It’s no wonder that distracted driving has become such a danger.
87.5% of people who responded to an AAA poll last month said that they thought that distracted driving was more serious than using drugs or alcohol when driving, aggressive driving or the reaction to traffic congestion. The danger presented by distracted driving is not just a perception, however. It’s backed up by statistics.
The AAA and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) both have statistics which reveal the disturbing truth about distracted driving. According to the same AAA poll conducted, 49% of drivers admitted to having used a hand-held cell phone when driving. Slightly less people, 45%, said that they had read a text or an email received while they were driving. Worse, nearly 35% said that they had sent an email or texted when driving. The NHTSA’s own figures show that 77% of drivers say that they respond to cell phone calls when driving, at least some of the time.
Nevada’s AAA spokesman, Michael Blasky, has said that driving at the same time as texting can increase the chance of a car crash by a factor of 2 to 8 times. Blasky says that even talking on a hands free mobile device can make a car crash 4 times more likely. The use of hands free devices for making a cell phone call is currently legal in Nevada.
Nevada’s distracted driving laws
Every state has made laws that go some way to prevent car crashes by distracted driving, even though some states have been slow to respond to the increasing danger presented by new mobile technology. In some cases, states have been loath to force laws on drivers who they believe should show individual responsibility for their actions.
In Nevada it is now illegal to drive and text, use the internet or use a hand held cell phone to make a call. There are penalties for drivers who are caught doing so. It is still legal to use a hands-free device, despite the warnings from the AAA that this still makes driving more dangerous.
The penalties are not very onerous. The first offense attracts a fine of only $50 and is not even considered a moving violation. A second offense carries a fine of $100 and a third offense or more $250. Like many other traffic offenses, these fines are doubled if the offense occurs in a work zone.
The chance of actually being caught by a law enforcer is pretty slim, so at least at present, the consequences for distracted drivers of being caught are not excessive by any means. The consequences for any victims of a car crash caused by distracted driving are on the other hand huge. If you are hit head-on by a driver who is busy texting his or her friend the fact that he or she could be fined $50 is hardly compensation for the possibly enormous personal financial and emotional cost you are going to have to bear unless you are able to sue the driver.
Filing a personal injury claim
Proving negligence in a distracted driving crash is not easy. It is best to seek legal help from a determined and proven Las Vegas car accident attorney who may be able to issue a sub-poena for the release of phone call timing to help determine that a driver was using a hand held cell phone at the time of the crash. Proving that the other driver was at fault is essential if the personal injury claim is to be successful. Other useful evidence may come from the police report compiled at the crash scene, eye witness statements, especially if the other driver was spotted using a mobile device immediately before the crash and vehicle crash damage information.
If you, or a member of your family, have been injured in a car crash by a distracted driver anywhere around Las Vegas contact the Law Office of Rodney Okano as soon as possible at (702) 566-3600.