In October, an Ohio man lost his life when his car struck a guardrail while he was driving on the Interstate 71 after he became distracted by a text. After hitting the guardrail, the car swerved into the lane of an oncoming pickup truck that was hauling a trailer, striking it on the driver’s side door. This tragedy is only the most recent in a long line of texting-related car crashes. The growing problem prompted lawmakers to make it a crime to text while driving. While texting is perhaps the most prevalent and reported distraction related to car crashes, it is by no means the only one.
Types of Distractions
It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that as many as 1,161 people sustain injuries in car crashes that are caused by distracted driving on a daily basis. The most dangerous distractions fall under one of three categories, which include:
- Visual distractions;
- Manual distractions; and
- Cognitive distraction.
It is not uncommon for an activity to fall under more than one category. For example, texting satisfies the criteria for all three types of distractions as it requires a driver to take his or her eyes off of the road, to take one or both hands off of the steering wheel, and to focus on something other than driving. Eating and drinking also fall under at least two of the categories, while adjusting make-up or hair may also satisfy the criteria of all three categories. While distractions that are visually, manually, and cognitively distracting may be the most dangerous, there are a variety of other types of activities that can be just as perilous, including:
- Using in-vehicle technologies, such as a GPS;
- Talking on a cell phone;
- Using cell phones to check email or post on social media websites;
- Attending to children in the backseat;
- Driving while fatigued;
- Grooming; and
While these may be some of the most common distractions attributed to causing car crashes, almost any activity can qualify as a distraction if it requires a driver to take his or her attention off of the road.
Treating Injuries Caused by Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is known for leading to especially serious injuries. This is in large part due to the fact that distracted drivers are often unaware that a collision is about to take place until it is too late to attempt to swerve out of the way or slow down. Generally, the severity of an injury depends on how many cars were involved in the crash, how fast they were traveling, the size of the vehicles, and the age and health of each car’s occupants. Because there are so many variables, car accident injuries can range in severity from minor scrapes and bruises to head trauma and paralysis. Some of the most common car-crash related injuries include:
- Broken or crushed bones;
- Damage to the spine;
- Traumatic brain injury; and
These injuries have a variety of lasting effects, such as headaches, scars, chronic pain, limited movement, and memory problems. Even relatively minor injuries, such as mild concussions, small cuts, or slight fractures can have painful or lasting consequences. Small cuts can become infected and may require stitches, mild concussions can cause disorientation, mood swings, and insomnia, while even minor fractures require casts, crutches, and even a wheelchair. Even treating less severe injuries of this nature can be expensive, while other more serious medical issues can quickly drive a family into debt. For instance, many car accident victims are forced to pay for some or all of the following costs:
- Emergency transport and treatment;
- Follow-up appointments;
- Prescription medications;
- Reconstructive surgeries;
- Specialized physical therapy;
- Appointments with specialists;
- Transportation costs;
- Medical devices, including wheelchairs, braces, and oxygen tanks; and
- Psychiatric care.
Even injured parties who have health insurance can quickly find these costs difficult, if not impossible, to meet. Fortunately, car crash victims can obtain reimbursement for these costs by filing a claim against the responsible parties in court.
Accidents caused by distracted driving are especially frustrating because they are so easily avoided. Even though Ohio has laws in place to encourage drivers to forego using their phones while driving, it is still a good idea to implement a few precautionary measures to help decrease your own chances of becoming distracted. Some of the best ways to avoid becoming distracted while driving include:
- Making adjustments to the seat, radio, air conditioning, and GPS before starting a trip;
- Safely restraining pets before driving;
- Securing children in car seats and ensuring that they have any snacks or toys that they may need during the trip before starting the engine;
- Making sure that all loose gear, including iPods, purses, exercise equipment, and food are stored in a location where you will not be tempted to reach for them;
- Eating before you leave the home or office so you are not tempted to snack in the car;
- Completing all personal grooming before getting in the car, including checking make-up, hair, or contact lenses;
- Storing any electronic distractions prior to travel;
- If there are passengers in the car, asking them to answer phone calls or enter GPS coordinates on your behalf;
- Pulling the car over if another activity requires your attention; and
- Scanning the road in front of you at all times, while also glancing at your side and rear view mirrors consistently.
While these steps may seem straightforward or obvious, their implementation can go a long way towards keeping you and your family safe.
How an Experienced Cincinnati Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Distracted driving can have devastating consequences for victims and their families, so if you were injured in a crash in Cincinnati and have reason to believe that distracted driving played a role in the accident, please contact Ohio Car Accident Lawyers by sending us a short message and a member of our dedicated legal team will assist you in setting up a free case evaluation with a determined Cincinnati car crash attorney who can review your case and advise you on your legal options.