Uncover the perils of distracted driving. Our guide sheds light on the risks and consequences, promoting safer habits for a secure commute.
You may be guilty of distracted driving without even realizing it. Even if you keep your cell phone in the glove box and your favorite radio station pre-tuned before leaving your driveway, you can still engage in distracted driving behavior. It’s so dangerous that even taking your eyes off the road for a second can cause a car accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,522 fatalities were caused by distracted driving in 2021. These are preventable fatalities, which is why states like Oklahoma are enacting laws to encourage drivers to keep their attention on the road.
Oklahoma’s Distracted Driving Laws
The Sooner State has a couple of laws on the books regarding distracted driving. Texting while driving is illegal in Oklahoma, and they’re not the only state to pass this law.
Basically, it’s always illegal to text and drive, regardless of which state you’re in. This is especially true in school zones, even when the caution lights aren’t flashing. In other words, don’t even look at an incoming text message when you’re driving.
A police officer can pull you over anytime they believe you may be texting behind the wheel. The officer doesn’t even need to see your phone, so don’t try to hide your actions. This can increase your risk of causing a traffic accident. If it’s your first offense, fines are around $100. Fines increase for 2nd and 3rd offenses. You may even risk a temporary suspension of your license if you continue to text and drive.
Oklahoma also has a rather vague law aimed at preventing distracted driving accidents. The law simply requires all motor vehicle operators to devote their full attention to driving. Yes, this means you can’t look away from the road, even for a second.
If an officer believes you’re distracted, you may receive a citation for operating a vehicle in a way that presents an acute risk to others. In other words, never look away from the road, and always keep both hands on the steering wheel.
Common Types of Distracted Driving
While cell phone usage is the type of distracted driving that commonly makes the news, you can even find road signs warning of the dangers of texting or talking on the phone while driving.
However, it’s not the only type of distracted driving. Some other examples include:
- Fiddling with the radio
- Looking at a map or GPS
- Eating or drinking
- Turning around in the car to talk to a passenger in the back seat
- Play fighting with another passenger
- Trying to wave a bug out of the car
- Looking at a video
Trying to put on makeup or even shaving is also a form of distracted driving. Yes, people even try to shave in the car.
Even if you’re only engaging in this behavior at red lights and stop signs, it’s still illegal. Besides, do you really want strangers to drive by while watching you shave or apply mascara?
Did you know that you can cover the length of a football field in only a second or so? So, just imagine what can happen if you take your eyes off the road for even a second.
Liability and Distracted Driving Accidents
It’s common to assume that the driver of the car is to blame if they injure you, but guess what? You’re probably correct.
The driver engaging in reckless driving is responsible for your damages; however, the driver may not be the only one at fault. Yes, this can be a little confusing, especially if the driver is the only one in the vehicle.
So, who else may be at fault in a distracted driving accident? If the driver is operating a company-owned vehicle, the business may also be named in your personal injury case. If a government organization owns the vehicle, the same rules may also apply.
You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the entity, but this can be complicated. The statute of limitations against a government agency is usually shorter, around six months from the accident date. Don’t forget about the red tape that typically comes with any type of government entity.
If the distracted driver is a minor, the parents (vehicle owner) may also be named in your personal injury lawsuit. Due to the complications that can arise in distracted driving cases, it’s usually best to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Tips on Preventing Distracted Driving Accidents
The best way to prevent distracted driving accidents is to give up on the idea of trying to multitask. When you’re behind the wheel, you only have one responsibility. You’re responsible for getting to your destination safely and without endangering others on the road. Sometimes, this alone is difficult enough without trying to accomplish other small tasks.
A few tips to ensure your eyes are always on the road and your hands on the steering wheel include:
- Pre-setting the radio station
- Adjusting the rear and side-view mirrors
- Programming the navigation system
Your passengers can also help prevent distractions by not acting out in the car, which means not tapping you on the shoulder, asking you to look at passing scenery, or horseplaying with other passengers.
If you’re the parent of a teen driver, talk to them about safe driving habits. Remind your teenager of the dangers associated with distracted driving and set boundaries.
For example, if your teen receives a citation for texting and driving, take away their driving privileges for a specific amount of time. You may even want to engage with your local police or fire department. They often offer safe driving classes for teens.
Contact an Attorney If You’re Injured in a Distracted Driving Incident
Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents are becoming more common, and it’s not only teens engaging in this dangerous behavior.
If you’re injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be eligible for compensation. However, determining liability can be complex, even in distracted driving cases. Talk to an attorney about your case.