We’re all busy these days. It isn’t surprising that many drivers attempt to “multi-task” by making phone calls or texting while driving. However, any time that a driver focuses his or her attention on something other than the road, he or she increases the chances of being in a Tennessee car accident.
Statistically speaking, about three people lose their lives in car crashes in Tennessee each day. Far too many of these accidents are caused by distracted driving, including cell phone and smart phone usage. The problem isn’t just in Tennessee, of course. Nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 3000 lives are lost annually in the United States because of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving is Extremely Dangerous
A driver can be distracted by many different things – carrying on a heated conversation with a passenger, eating or drinking, and applying cosmetics or engaging in other grooming (such as shaving) are all considered to be forms of distracted driving. However, the usage of electronic devices – especially smart phones, but also navigation systems, radios, and the like – is especially problematic.
Not only does engagement with an electronic device take a driver’s mind from the task at hand, it can also cause him or her to look at the device instead of the road. As a result, a driver can easily “drive blind” for a distance exceeding the length of a football field by just “glancing” at a single text. As any sports fan can tell you, a lot can happen in the length of a football field!
A distracted driver can run a stop sign or red light, causing a collision with someone approaching from a side street. The driver may fail to notice slowing or stopped traffic ahead, resulting in a rear-end collision. The car may begin to drift into the oncoming lane while the driver focuses his or her attention on the phone. Any of these situations can result in serious injuries or death.
What Tennessee Is Doing About Distracted Driving
Beginning earlier this year, the State of Tennessee has begun to crack down on those who endanger themselves and others by paying more attention to their phones than to the road. Under the state’s “Hands-Free Tennessee” law, it is now illegal for a driver to hold a cellular telephone (or other mobile device) with any part of his or her body. Drivers are also prohibited from writing, sending, or reading text messages; reaching for a phone in a way that results in him or her no longer being in a seated driving position; watching videos on cellphones; and/or recording video on a mobile device.
The purpose of the law is to decrease the number of distracted driving crashes in the state. According to promotional materials regarding the new law, Tennessee has the highest rate of distracted driving deaths in the country. Violation of the law is a Class C misdemeanor; fines increase with subsequent offenses, as well as in situations involving crashes or use of a device while in a work or school zone.
Have Questions for a Knoxville Attorney Regarding a Distracted Driving Crash
While the new law is a step in the right direction, it won’t end the epidemic of distracted driving accidents, nor will it provide compensation to those hurt in such accidents. In order to be paid for medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses caused by a distracted driver, an injured individual must file a claim against the responsible party. If you have been hurt by a driver who was on his or her phone, you should talk to a lawyer about seeking fair compensation. To schedule an appointment with an experienced east Tennessee car accident attorney, call the Hartsoe Law Firm at 865-524-5657 for an appointment. We handle many different types of motor vehicle accident claims, as well as cases involving medical negligence or premises liability.