Tag Archive for: distracted driving

distracted driving in Alabama

Does Distracted Driving Cause More Motorcycle Accidents?

Statistics indicate that the answer to this question is “yes”. For the past couple decades, fatalities from motorcycle accidents have been on the rise. During the 1990s, the average motorcycle accident fatality rate was under 3,000 per year. During the first decade of the new millennium, this number began to increase steadily, and in 2007, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities exceeded 5,000 for the first time. 

Coincidentally (or maybe not such a coincidence), 2007 was the year Apple introduced the iPhone. And since that time, the use of smartphones has become widespread not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. The vast majority of motorists now have them, and today, motorcycle accident fatality rates are consistently at or near the 5,000 mark.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can be anything that diverts a driver’s attention from the road. Motorists have always had distractions to contend with, and this has always been something that could lead to accidents. Some examples of common driver distractions that have been around for a while include eating, drinking, tuning the car radio, staring too long at billboards and other road signs, grooming, talking with passengers, and talking on the phone.

These distractions can fall into one or more of four general categories:

  • Manual
  • Visual
  • Audio
  • Cognitive

The distractions mentioned above usually fall into only one or two of these categories. And they can still be very hazardous under the wrong set of circumstances. But smartphone activity while behind the wheel brings distracted driving to a whole new level. 

Texting while driving, looking through emails and social media apps, watching YouTube videos, and even reading a GPS navigation map are activities that can simultaneously distract drivers in three or four different ways. This means that the driver’s attention is diverted completely from the road, and the end result is far more instances when motorists put others on the road in danger.

To put into perspective how dangerous electronic activity on a smartphone is, consider that if you look down at your phone for just five seconds to send a text while driving 55 miles per hour, it is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. When drivers regularly engage in this type of activity, it is much easier not to notice important things are happening on the road.

Distracted Driving and Motorcycle Accidents

According to a 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, distracted driving is now a contributing factor in as many as 40% all motorcycle accidents in the United States. Because motorcycles have such a small profile, seeing them has always been a challenge for other motorists. This is why there has been an ongoing public awareness campaign for many decades to help address this concern.

Smartphone activity has apparently made this problem far worse. When a driver is looking down at their phone, it is very easy not to see a motorcycle that enters their blind spot. This can result in more collisions when the driver tries to change lanes or make a turn. This also increases the likelihood that the driver looking at their phone will weave into another lane, resulting in an accident.

Motorcyclists are already at higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities when they collide with another vehicle. Bikers do not have a steel cage to protect them when they are involved in a crash, and there is not much that separates their bodies from hitting the pavement. This is one of the major reasons why motorcycle deaths are 28 times more frequent (per 100,000 miles traveled) than with occupants of other vehicles.

With the increased risk of distracted driving accidents, motorcyclists need to do everything they can to protect themselves from distracted motorists. Here are some ways for bikers to stay safer on the road:

  • Wear bright or reflective clothing;
  • Always keep your lights on even during the day;
  • Always make eye contact with other motorists before you cross in front of them;
  • Look for signs that a motorist may be distracted, such as weaving over the center line, weaving back and forth between lanes, and staying at a stop sign or stoplight for too long;
  • Refrain from distracted driving yourself.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Even if you follow all the best safety practices, you cannot control the driving behavior of others. If you or someone close to you was involved in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. To help ensure you recover full and fair compensation, it is best to work with a seasoned personal injury lawyer.  

If the accident occurred in Alabama, call M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-581-9238 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.

teen drivers and distracted driving

Teen Drivers & Distractions: What you Need to Know

For the past several years, distracted driving has been a growing problem in Alabama and throughout the country. As the use of smartphones has become mainstream, the need to “stay connected” has become a major distraction for many motorists. This is especially true among teenage drivers, who are very tech savvy and not always aware of the dangers certain driving behaviors pose.

Statistics on Distracted Driving

At any given time during daylight hours, approximately 660,000 motorists throughout the country are on their cell phones, and on average, nine individuals are killed in the United States each day in crashes that involve a distracted driver. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,166 individuals were killed by distracted driving in 2017 alone.

Teenage drivers are more vulnerable to distractions than other age groups, largely because of their youth and inexperience. For this reason, it comes as very little surprise that teens are the group most likely to be distracted at the time a fatal crash occurs.

More than half of all teens have admitted to using a cell phone while driving, and about 25% of those in this age group admit to having used a cell phone while driving during the past 30 days. Distraction is a primary factor in nearly 60% of all crashes involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 19, and even though alcohol-related driving fatalities have decreased among teens in recent years, the number of overall traffic fatalities (among this group) is on the rise. Many experts believe that distracted driving is the primary reason for this.

Why Texting while Driving is so Dangerous

Since the automobile was invented, motorists have always had distractions. Tuning radio dials, dealing with noisy and unruly passengers, eating and drinking, looking at billboards, or just inattentiveness all present hazards that increase the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident.

Texting and other electronic activity while behind the wheel brings these dangers to a whole new level, because they distract drivers in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively.  In other words, electronic activity on a smartphone demands the driver’s full attention, taking his or her focus off of the road. To help put this into perspective, sending or reading a text for just five seconds driving at 55 miles per hour is like driving across an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Preventing Distracted Driving among Teenagers

Texting while driving is illegal in Alabama and most other states. Unfortunately, just the fact that this practice is against the law does not prevent teens (and drivers in all other age groups for that matter) from sending texts and engaging in other cell phone activity while behind the wheel. We must all do more discourage distracted driving and make our roads safer.

Here are some tips to help reduce distracted driving among teens:

  • Education: It always starts with education. This topic will certainly be covered during a teen’s driver education courses, but it is also important for parents to sit down with their teens and discuss the dangers of distracted driving. The more education they have, the less likely they are to engage in this type of behavior. Before you hand over the keys and send them out on their own, talk to your teen about safe driving and the responsibilities that come with being a licensed driver. Remind your teenage driver to buckle up and follow all of the traffic laws; and talk with them about the various driving behaviors that they should avoid. These would include speeding, aggressive or reckless driving, drunk driving, drowsy driving, and distracted driving.
  • Put it in Writing: Educating your teenage driver on the driving laws and best safety practices is a good first step, but sometimes talking alone is not enough to get them to drive safely. You might want to take it a step further by putting these driving rules in writing and committing to following them yourself. Teens are more likely to take something to heart if you put it in writing. Create a written contract between you and your teen stating all of the ground rules for safe driving. By having a written contract, your teen is more likely to take ownership and follow what is stated in the guidelines. This also provides a written framework for you to revoke their driving privileges if they do not follow the rules.
  • Leverage available Technology:  Technology has created more driving hazards, particularly the ability to text and send other electronic messages while operating a vehicle. But there are two sides to the technology coin. There are numerous apps available that can block texts, social media activity, and even making phone calls (except for emergency 911 calls) on your smart phone while driving. There are also apps that can help you track where they are going, so your teen is not somewhere that they should not be. If you feel this is necessary, consider installing one or more of these apps on their phone to help keep your teen safe.
  • Get Familiar with Alabama’s Graduated Driver’s License Process: Alabama has a graduated driver’s license program for teen drivers. 16 and 17-year-olds receive a restricted license for the first six months after they pass the driving exam. With this restricted license, they are only allowed to have one passenger who is a non-family member and under the age of 21. They are also prohibited from driving between the hours of midnight and 6 AM (except for work and other approved activities) unless they are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a licensed driver who is 21 years of age or older. Make sure your teen thoroughly understands and follows the rules that come with the restricted license.

  • Lead by Example: Finally, be sure to provide a good model for your teen by refraining from texting and other dangerous activities when you are behind the wheel. Regardless of what you tell them, your teen will only think something is important if you are actually doing it yourself.

Injured by a Distracted Driver in Alabama? Contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for Assistance

If you or a loved one suffered injury at the hands of a distracted driver (teen or otherwise), you have a right to be compensated. Before talking with any insurance adjusters, it is important to speak with an experienced auto accident lawyer, so you understand your rights and legal options. 

Call M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-581-9238 to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.