Abels & Annes

Distracted Driving: Lurking Danger for Chicago Drivers

12715(3)What kind of driver are you? Are you a passive driver, preferring to stay in the right lane, driving under the speed limit and always allowing others to merge in front of you? Or are you an aggressive driver, pushing the limits by speeding, weaving among slower traffic and trying to dart around any congestion you encounter? Perhaps you are a combination of those two extremes, employing some tactics in certain situations and other approaches when the times call for them. No matter how you believe an ideal driver should act, though, odds are that you divert from the standard at some moments in time.

Any type of driver can become distracted while operating a vehicle, and it seems that the incidents of distraction are rising annually. Once a minor issue that rarely made headlines, distraction-related car accidents are now commonplace in Chicago and in the nation with more than 30,000 fatal crashes being blamed on distraction in 2013 alone.

A significant problem continues to be that drivers do not realize the extent to which something may be distracting. Most drivers believe that taking a sip of coffee, talking to a passenger, or even listening to the radio to be a harmless action while texting and driving or sending an email to be an inherently dangerous one. Often, that belief is correct but it does not have to be. In fact, anything that takes as driver’s attention away from the road and from traffic may be properly considered a distraction and a factor in distracted driving.

In the big scheme of distracted driving, cell phones and other electronic devices are king as their use accounts for the lion’s share of collisions and other incidents that turn tragic. Texting while driving, sending or reading email, or even watching video on a cell phone are some behaviors that safety experts have confirmed are increasing annually in all states, including many areas that have passed legislation expressly outlawing such conduct. As technology continues to be used unnecessarily by drivers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 3,328 people were killed in American car accidents linked to distracted driving in 2012 alone with another 421,000 people sustaining injuries. When compared to the deaths and injuries inflicted in 2011, the numbers from 2012 show roughly a nine percent increase in harm.

What can you do if you drive on an occasional basis in Chicago? First, realize that your conduct will make you either part of the problem or part of the solution. Do your best to ignore whatever you find distracting and always refrain from texting or emailing while driving. In case of an emergency, pull over to somewhere safe, stop your vehicle, and then use your phone if needed. If it is not an emergency, remember that it can wait and that protecting safety on our roadways should be your primary concern.

While you cannot control the actions of others around you, you can take steps to encourage responsible behavior in others. Talk to your children, family members, and friends about your concerns regarding distracted driving and take a stand in support of a technology-free drive. If you lead by example, odds are that others will follow.

If you happen to be the unfortunate victim of a distracted driving car accident in Illinois, know that you may have the right to seek relief against those responsible. Call the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 where we have a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call and to help you. We offer a free case consultation without obligation to all injury victims who call us and everything discussed during the consultation will be kept confidential.

Prior Blog Entry:

Winter Weather Blamed for Multiple Chicago Crashes, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, published November 24, 2015.

Resource:

Traffic Safety Facts, Distracted Driving 2013, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, published April 2015.