This blog is the first of four blogs discussing driving behaviors frequently witnessed on the roads in and around New Orleans. Our NOLA car accident lawyers discuss four dangerous and potentially deadly driving behaviors and how drivers can avoid these behaviors. Since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the first driving behavior we discuss is distracted driving.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distractions while driving can be extremely dangerous for the driver and everyone else on the road. Drivers who are distracted have impaired attention and reaction times. A distraction is anything that takes the driver’s focus away from the primary task of driving. Examples of distracted driving include:

  • Texting while driving
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming or changing clothes
  • Reaching for objects
  • Using any electronic device
  • Reading and writing
  • Taking care of children or pets
  • Checking emails
  • Using social media or the internet
  • Watching or making videos

Distractions cause drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel and take their eyes off the road. They also result in a shift in focus as they attempt to multitask. Multitasking may be great at work or home, but it has no place behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

How Deadly is Distracted Driving?

During 2016, thousands of people were injured or killed in distracted driving accidents in the United States. The NHTSA reports 3,450 people died in accidents involving a distracted driver that year. In Louisiana, there were at least 2,175 distracted driving accidents involving a driver who was distracted by a cell phone, including seven fatal accidents and 734 injury accidents. Another 13,821 accidents were caused by distractions inside or outside of the vehicle resulting in 17 fatal crashes and 4,270 injury crashes.

Unfortunately, the statistics for distracted driving accidents is probably low because most drivers do not report that they were distracted at the time of the collision. Therefore, the death toll and injury rates for distracted driving could actually be much higher.

How Can I Avoid a Distracted Driving Accident?

While there is nothing you can do to prevent another driver from making a poor choice, you can choose to avoid distractions while driving. Distracted driving is a choice that you can control by:

  • Turning your cell phone off or using the Do Not Disturb feature/app on your cell phone while driving.
  • If you need to reach for an object, eat a meal, groom, or change clothing, pull over to a safe location.
  • Do not text, email, or otherwise use an electronic device while driving.
  • Program your GPS before you leave. If you need to change the GPS, pull over to reprogram it.
  • Make sure children have what they need close by so that you are not reaching to retrieve or hand a child something. If children drop what they are holding, let it stay where it fell or pull over to retrieve it.
  • Allow other passengers to navigate, take care of children, or do anything else that would cause you to be distracted.

AAA Exchange has an entire section devoted to distracted driving, including tips to avoid distracted driving and other resources you may find helpful.

Contact a New Orleans Distracted Driving Accident Attorney for Help

If you are injured in a distracted driving accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, proving the other driver caused the crash can be difficult. In addition, the insurance company may not be willing to pay a fair amount to settle your claim.

Contact Attorney Fred Olinde of The Olinde Firm by telephone at (504) 587-1440 or 1-800-587-1889 to schedule a free legal consultation with a New Orleans car accident attorney to discuss your case.