The real costs of distracted driving

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Distracted driving has become a serious problem with the advancement of technology. With smartphones, navigation systems and entertainment options built right into cars, it can be tempting to look away from the road for more than just a moment. Those few seconds when your attention isn’t on the road are critical and can get you a ticket or worse: cause an accident with injury or even death.
Distractions are not just limited to texting or talking on a cell phone. Other activities such as eating, drinking, smoking, changing the radio station, looking at your navigation system for directions or becoming distracted by other passengers, especially children.

Impact of Looking at Your Phone

Experts say that looking at a text message takes an average of four seconds, which translates to looking away from the road the entire length of a football field when driving 50 mph. That’s a lot, opening up an opportunity for something bad to happen. You might not see someone stopping quickly in front of you, swerve out of your lane or a number of other actions that put you, your passengers and other drivers at risk.

Passengers can be a Distraction

Kids in the back might ask for a dropped toy or for you to open something, which seems pretty easy, but reaching back and taking attention away from the road is dangerous. Never turn around and look in the back seat when driving. The quick seconds that you’re turned around helping or acknowledging someone can lead to a car accident, injuries or even fatalities in the worst outcomes.

Researchers have confirmed that distracted driving played a part in at least 17 percent of accidents, but the actual numbers are likely higher due to those accidents when other causes for the accident were listed or reported. Individuals are less likely to report to authorities that they were engaging in an activity that took their attention away from the road because it automatically becomes a factor in the crash. Thousands of minor accidents such as going into a ditch, hitting a piece of property or a slight fender bender are unreported each year, which makes it difficult to get an actual estimate of how significant of an effect these activities have on drivers and in an economic sense for everyone on the roads.

Individual Impact

It’s likely if you’re engaging in these risky behaviours while driving and get into an accident, you’ll likely be found at fault. Besides injury and potentially death, you also have to take into account medical expenses, time out of work and the costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle along with the others that are involved in the accident. The costs can amount to thousands of dollars.

The total financial cost of distracted driving is impossible to put a figure on because every accident isn’t reported and it’s not always immediately evident that these distracting actions played a part in the incident. If you’ve been in an accident where the fault lies with someone taking their attention away from the road and this played a part in your injuries, you may be entitled to a settlement to pay for direct costs, medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering if applicable.

Norm Assiff

Norm Assiff

Norm was awarded the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) President's Award for 2012--awarded to a member of the Alberta bar who has distinguished himself or herself by his or her contribution to the profession or the community, the advancement of the law or their service to ACTLA. He has appeared at all levels of court in Alberta (Provincial Court, Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal) as well as the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Federal Court of Appeal.

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The information presented on this post is not legal advice. We encourage you to perform further research on the topics described here, and if you have any questions or would like to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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