Distracted driving is a serious problem that can lead to catastrophic consequences, changing lives within seconds. Distracted driving accidents injure hundreds of thousands of people each year. At Green Law Firm P.C., our Colorado Springs distracted driving accident attorneys are dedicated to protecting victims impacted by distracted driving accidents. Our team has extensive experience in dealing with these unique cases, fighting tirelessly for the rights of victims who have been injured due to someone else’s reckless decision to divert their attention away from the road. We’re committed to seeking justice for our clients and ensuring they receive the maximum compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one have been injured, contact the Green Law Firm, P.C. for experienced help today. We offer a free consultation to assess your case and outline the best legal strategy to pursue.
What are Distracted Driving Accidents?
Colorado Springs distracted driving accidents refer to any vehicular accidents caused by a driver being distracted or not fully attentive to the task of driving.
Distracted driving is a broad term that covers any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road. Distractions can be visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), or cognitive (taking your mind off driving). It’s important to note that even a few seconds of distraction can have severe consequences.
Common forms of distractions include using a cellphone or smartphone, texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, including maps, using a GPS or other navigation system, watching a video, adjusting a radio, CD player, or other music device, and observing events outside of the car such as an accident or billboard.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents In Colorado Springs
Distracted driving occurs anytime a driver’s attention is diverted away from driving. Common distracted driving behaviors include:
- Talking on Cellphones: Using a cell phone while driving is one of the most common causes of distracted driving. Even if the driver uses a hands-free device, the mental engagement in a conversation can significantly distract from the task of driving. This can lead to slower reaction times and a lack of attention to road conditions, other vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic signals.
- Texting: Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distractions all at once. It requires the driver to take their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road, and their mind off driving. A mere few seconds spent sending or reading a text can equate to driving the length of a football field blindfolded at 55 mph.
- Eating and Drinking: Eating or drinking while driving might seem like a multitasking efficiency, but it’s a significant distraction. Handling food or drinks requires a driver to remove one or both hands from the wheel, divert their eyes from the road, and shift their mental focus. Spills or managing unwieldy food items can also lead to abrupt movements that can cause accidents.
- Interacting with GPS or Other Devices: While GPS and other in-car technologies can assist drivers, interacting with these devices while driving can be a major distraction. Programming a GPS or adjusting music or climate controls can take the driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for significant periods of time.
- Talking to Passengers: Engaging in conversation with passengers is a common but overlooked distraction. It can lead to the driver focusing more on the discussion than on the driving task. This is especially risky for new or young drivers who may have less ability to manage driving while simultaneously engaging in conversation.
- Grooming: Activities like applying makeup, fixing hair, or even shaving while driving are surprisingly common. However, these actions significantly distract the driver, requiring them to take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road, potentially leading to accidents.
- Observing Events Outside of the Car: It’s natural to be curious, but drivers who divert their attention to look at an accident scene, a billboard, or any unusual event outside their vehicle are not focused on their primary task – driving. This “rubbernecking” can lead to unexpected braking or lane deviations, causing accidents.
- Adjusting Vehicle Controls: Changing the radio station, adjusting mirrors, setting cruise control, or even reaching for an object in the car can be enough to take a driver’s attention off the road. Each second spent on these tasks is a second not spent focused on the driving environment, increasing the risk of an accident.
Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every year approximately 421,000 individuals are injured in distracted driving accidents.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration observed that today’s drivers multi-tasked while driving up to 50% of the time, while 34% of all drivers reported using a cell phone routinely while driving.
In fact, it is estimated that at any given moment, as many as 660,000 American drivers are using a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle.
Younger drivers are particularly susceptible to distractions. Drivers under the age of 20, account for the largest percentage of distracted drivers.
It is estimated that 10% of young drivers who were involved in a fatal crash, were driving distracted at the time of the collision.
Colorado Springs Cellphone Use Laws While Driving
The state of Colorado bans the use of both handheld and hands-free cell phone use for novice drivers, and texting for all drivers, regardless of age or experience, is banned.
Both of these are primary laws, meaning an officer may contact and ticket a motorist for these offenses without them having committed any other driving offense.
Here is an overview of the laws:
- Texting While Driving: Under Colorado law (C.R.S. 42-4-239), it’s illegal for all drivers to text, email, or use any other form of manual data entry while operating a motor vehicle. The law does provide an exception for cases where the driver needs to text for emergency purposes, such as reporting a criminal act or calling for emergency assistance.
- Cellphone Use by Novice Drivers: Colorado law also prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a cell phone or any other mobile electronic device for any purpose (talking, texting, playing games, etc.) while driving, with the exception of reporting an emergency.
Violations of these laws can result in fines and points against the driver’s license. The law explicitly states that a violation of the texting or cellphone use law that results in bodily injury or death to another is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.
Reducing Distracted Driving
The best chance of reducing the number of distracted driving accidents is to educate the general public about all of the different types of distractions that exist, and the effect they have on your ability to safely operate an automobile.
There are three main types of distractions:
- Manual: Physically removing your hands from the wheel to engage in another activity. Examples include texting or dialing on your phone, adjusting the radio or climate controls, eating, drinking, or reaching for something in the vehicle. By removing one or both hands from the wheel, drivers significantly reduce their ability to react and navigate safely. It’s important to note that even seemingly minor actions, such as changing the radio station or taking a sip of coffee, can have serious implications if they occur at a crucial moment, like when the vehicle in front suddenly brakes or a pedestrian steps onto the road.
- Visual: Taking your eyes off the road to look at something else. This might include reading a text message, checking a GPS, looking at a billboard, or turning around to address passengers in the back seat. Even a momentary diversion of the eyes from the road can have severe consequences. For instance, if a vehicle is traveling at 60 miles per hour, it covers approximately 88 feet per second. That means that even looking away for just two seconds results in nearly 180 feet traveled without watching the road – more than enough distance for a situation to drastically change and lead to an accident.
- Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving. This occurs when drivers are lost in thought, daydreaming, or focused on a conversation, either with a passenger in the car or over the phone. Cognitive distractions can also include stress or fatigue that prevents a driver from focusing fully on the task of driving. This type of distraction is often the most difficult to identify and quantify, but it can be just as dangerous as visual or manual distractions. It can lead to slowed reaction times, missed signals or signs, and poor decision-making. Even when a driver is looking at the road and has both hands on the wheel, if their mind is elsewhere, they are not fully engaged in driving and their ability to respond effectively to changing road conditions is compromised.
Different secondary tasks while driving involve different forms of distraction. However, talking on a handheld cellular device involves all three forms, making it virtually impossible for a driver to function properly behind the wheel.
Distracted Driving Accident Legal Claims
The steps taken after a distracted driving accident are critical to an injured person getting the fair compensation they require to get their lives back to normal.
It’s important first and foremost, to receive medical treatment for your injuries. Even if you think you might not be injured, you should still see a doctor as some injuries may take time to develop. A doctor will be able to assess your situation and symptoms, and provide you with important medical advice.
It’s also critical to save and document any and all evidence that can be found at the scene of the crash. This includes not only photos of the crash scene, but also eye witness accounts and contact information for all involved and all witnesses. This evidence can be critical to establishing fault and winning your case.
Other pieces of evidence, such as cellphone records, may be more difficult to obtain, but an experienced attorney will have the knowledge and resources required to get ahold of this evidence, before it is lost forever.
Statute of Limitations for Colorado Springs Distracted Driving Accidents
The statute of limitations for distracted driving accidents in Colorado Springs falls under the general personal injury laws of Colorado. Typically, the time limit, or statute of limitations, for filing a personal injury claim in Colorado is three (3) years from the date of the accident. This means if you’ve been injured in a distracted driving accident, you have three (3) years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
It’s crucial to note that if the claim is against a government entity, such as a city bus or a government employee driving a government vehicle, a notice of claim must be filed within 182 days (about six months) of the accident.
Moreover, the statute of limitations for property damage resulting from an accident, which might apply if your vehicle was damaged in the crash but you were not injured, is three (3) years as well.
Keep in mind that if you fail to file your lawsuit within this timeframe, the court can dismiss your case, and you could lose your right to compensation for your injuries or damages.
Contact Our Colorado Springs Distracted Driving Accidents Attorney Today
Navigating the aftermath of a distracted driving accident can be challenging and stressful, particularly when you’re dealing with injuries, medical bills, and insurance companies. Every year, distracted drivers cause serious accidents and thousands of dollars in property damage, as well as thousands of injuries. These damages will require fair compensation to make the injured party whole. A capable attorney can help.
At Green Law Firm P.C., our dedicated Colorado Springs distracted driving accident attorneys are here to help. We possess the experience and knowledge to guide you through the complex legal process, and we will relentlessly pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Our attorneys know that you need compensation for injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We can help you seek justice after a serious automobile accident. If you have been injured in a car accident in Colorado and a distracted driver was at fault, call our office today to schedule a FREE consultation. Don’t let the negligence of a distracted driver derail your life without a fight. Contact us today for a free consultation and allow us to provide the legal support you need during this challenging time.