Just about everyone understands the dangers of drinking and driving. But distracted driving may actually be a greater danger for Wisconsin motorists–and their passengers–since it often occurs without people consciously realizing it. After all, how many of us have stopped to check a text message or fixed their makeup while driving? It may not seem like a big deal, at least until you end up causing a serious car accident.
Rise In Mobile Phone Use Mirrors Increase in Distracted Driving Injuries & Fatalities
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates approximately 3,500 people are killed–and 391,000 more are injured–each year in car accidents caused by some form of distracted driving. That works out to more than 1,000 distracted driving-related injuries every day. Locally, Wisconsin safety officials estimate there is a distracted driving crash within the state roughly every 22 minutes.
The main culprit in distracted driving is mobile phone usage. The NHTSA estimated roughly 660,000 drivers use their phones while operating their vehicles during daylight hours. This creates a significant risk of a distracted driving accident, particularly during hectic morning and evening commutes.
But distracted driving can occur without using a phone. Anytime a driver takes their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road, or their mind off of driving safely, an accident can happen. A car is a large blunt object traveling, at least in highway conditions, over 50 miles per hour. It is a deadly weapon in the hands of a negligent operator whose attention is not 100 percent focused on driving.
Distracted Driving Is Negligent Driving
Texting while driving is illegal in Wisconsin. To be precise, state law prohibits anyone from driving while “composing or sending an electronic text message or an electronic mail message.” And drivers with a probationary license or an instruction permit may not use a cell phone at all while driving, even in speakerphone mode or with a hands-free device. More generally, Wisconsin law also states drivers may not “be so engaged or occupied as to interfere with the safe driving” of their cars.
If distracted driving leads to a car accident, the driver may be liable in a subsequent personal injury lawsuit. To put it simply, distracted driving is negligent driving. A motorist who is looking at her phone and rear-ends someone is just as negligent as a driver who runs a red light and plows into the side of a truck legally in the intersection.
It is important to hold negligent drivers accountable. Many auto accident victims are reluctant to file a personal injury claim. But not doing so only encourages distracted drivers to continue their reckless habits. Sometimes the prospect of paying a large civil judgment is the only way to get negligent drivers to change their ways.
The Appleton personal injury lawyers at Hammett Bellin & Oswald LLC, know how to deal with distracted and other negligent drivers. If you have been injured in a car accident anywhere in Northeastern Wisconsin and require immediate legal assistance, please contact our offices in Appleton or Neenah today at 920-720-0000.