On behalf of Clark Brewster
A recent report found that over a quarter of car accidents are caused by cell phones.
April is National Distracted Driver Month. During this month, drivers are encouraged to put away their cellphones, refrain from texting and minimize other distractions while they are behind the wheel. To encourage drivers to practice safe driving habits, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol recently announced that it is out in full force this month to educate drivers on the wisdom of staying alert and focused while driving.
The efforts of the highway patrol are much needed, according to a recent report released by the National Safety Council (NSC). In the report, the NSC found that up to 26 percent of automobile accidents nationwide are caused in some way by cellphone use, whether texting while driving or talking on the phone while behind the wheel. In many cases, these accidents can have fatal results. In Oklahoma alone, distracted driving was a factor in 39 fatal car accidents during 2012.
Unfortunately, the NSC study found that the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by cellphones increased in 2013 over the previous year, despite the fact that 43 states have enacted distracted driving laws banning drivers from texting or using a cellphone while driving. Although many of these laws give police the power to pull over and ticket drivers if they are observed using a cellphone (or texting) while driving, it would seem that this has had little effect as a deterrent. According to NSC estimates, 277,000 car and truck accidents have occurred so far during 2014 where driver distraction was a factor.
As mentioned earlier, 43 states have laws banning some form of driver distraction. Oklahoma is not one of them. Under Oklahoma law, texting and cellphone use behind the wheel is legal for most age groups. The only exception is that texting and handheld cellphone use is prohibited for drivers that have a learner’s permit or intermediate license.
Despite the lack of a distracted driving law for most drivers, Oklahoma drivers that cause an accident because they were distracted can be held accountable for their actions. The law imposes on all drivers the duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonable manner that does not subject others to an unreasonable risk of harm. Drivers that fail to comply with this duty-whether they were texting, putting on makeup, or engrossed in a conversation with someone else in the car-are considered negligent under the law.
When a negligent driver causes an accident and injures another, he or she can be held civilly liable for the injured party’s expenses that were brought on by the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If a driver using his or her cellphone has injured you or a loved one, an experienced personal injury attorney can explain your recovery options and ensure that you receive fair compensation from the responsible party.