Dallas News reports that distracted driving is on the rise, alongside accidents on the nation’s roads. The US Department of Transportation’s data shows in that in 2011, there were about 5.3 million accidents, and the figure jumped to close to 6.3 million accidents for 2015. While the accident rate increase has more than one cause, a primary factor that is worrying safety advocates is driving while distracted. A recent Harris poll that was carried out for NerdWallet seems to support this concern completely.
According to the Harris poll, about 67 percent of Americans have driven in the last year while using a cellphone. It’s worth noting that 14 percent of all fatal crashes with distracted driving as a factor involved mobile phone use in 2015, according to the US Department of Transportation’s data.
Among the people who admitted to using their phone in the poll, 38 percent said they texted while they drove, and 13 percent said they almost went off the road, weaved in and out of lanes and nearly had an accident or did have an accident.
In addition to cell phone use while driving, 62 percent of respondents said they were distracted by things beside a cellphone while driving over the last year. The leading category by far in this section was eating, with 58 percent saying they did it, followed by 10 percent of drivers admitting to grooming while driving. Caring for a child in the backseat accounted for 9 percent, while laptop use made up 7 percent. Changing clothes came in at 5 percent, and drinking alcohol clocked in at 4 percent. Other reported distractions included reading, putting feet outside of the car while using cruise control, and playing an instrument.
While it appears likely that the rise in electronic use will continue to be a problem on the roads, the tech sector is now taking some proactive measures when it comes to curbing distracted driving. As reported by Tech Radar, the new operating system for Apple devices coming this fall, iOS 11, has a feature that will detect when someone is driving and silence all notifications. Users can even set it so that their Apple device sends an automatic text message response to incoming messages that indicates they are currently driving.
Smartphone apps that help people avoid distracted driving are also available for many devices. SafeDrive, for example, lets safe drivers earn points to use to discounts on services and products. AT&T’s DriveMode silences alerts and sends auto-replies to messages received on a driver’s phone. For parents with teen drivers, there’s LifeSaver, an app that locks the phone when the teen is driving and sends automatic messages when he or she has arrived at the destination. This app is also available for businesses that have fleet vehicles.
Distracted driving has resulted in minor, major and fatal accidents all over the country. If you’ve been injured because of a distracted driver, speak to an experienced auto and motorcycle accident lawyer Denver CO trusts as soon as possible about all of your rights.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into distracted driving.
Self-driving cars are not commonplace at this juncture in time. Nonetheless, the number of self-driving cars on U.S. roadways is beginning to increase. As the number of self-driving cars on roadways grows, accidents involving these vehicles will become more common as well. There will likely be an increase in the number of self-driving cars that cause fatal accidents.
If you have lost a family member in an accident involving a self-driving car, you need to understand your legal rights and appreciate the necessity of retaining the services of skilled, experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Determining Liability in a Self-Driving Car Accident Case
A primary element of a wrongful death case is ascertaining who is responsible for the accident. When it comes to a self-driving car fatal accident, a number of parties may be responsible for the event.
Examples of parties who may be held responsible legally for a self-driving accident include the designer of the vehicle. Another responsible party may be the manufacturer of the car. A parts manufacturer may also be deemed responsible for causing a self-driving vehicle accident if a specific part of the car malfunctioned.
The owner of the self-driving car may be deemed responsible for an accident, as might the individual in the “driver’s seat” in the vehicle. Although the vehicle is autonomous, these cars include override systems that can be activated, when necessary, by an individual positioned in what would traditionally be the driver’s seat.
The Elements of Establishing Legal Liability in a Wrongful Death Case
There are four primary elements underpinning a successful wrongful death claim, including one involving a self-driving car. First, a duty of care must exist. In this case, the operator of a self-driving vehicle must operate it in a reasonably safe manner.
Second, the duty of care must be breached. Running a red light in a self-driving car would represent a breach of the duty of care. Third, the conduct must be the actual and legal cause of the accident. Finally, a person pursuing a claim involving a self-driving car must sustain actual injuries. In the alternative, a death must have occurred as a result of the accident.
Compensation in a Self-Driving Car Wrongful Death Accident
The compensation potentially awarded in a wrongful death case arising from an accident involving an autonomous car depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. The relationship between the deceased individual and a family member making a wrongful death claim also comes into play.
Examples of losses and damages that are compensable in a wrongful death case can include final medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, property damage, mental anguish and emotional distress, and lost income or financial support.
In some cases, punitive or exemplary damages may be awarded in a wrongful death case. These represent additional compensation awarded in a wrongful death case. Punitive or exemplary damages are awarded if the conduct of the party causing an accident is determined to be particularly egregious or reckless.
Understanding that very few accidents occur involving self-driving cars at this juncture in time, personal injury lawyer Milwaukee WI trusts work more frequently with clients who have sustained injuries in accident involving traditional motor vehicles. The same holds true for wrongful death cases.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, S.C. for their insight into car accident and personal injury practice.