There is no telling what can happen on the road when a distracted driver is behind the wheel. Even a split second of inattention is more than enough time to cause a major collision – and when that happens, the distracted driver must be held accountable for the harm they’ve caused others.
The Clinton distracted driving accident lawyers at the Joye Law Firm want to help you hold negligent distracted drivers responsible for the harm they cause. Our attorneys have 250+ years of cumulative experience we can use to help you pursue as much compensation as possible for your injuries, medical bills, property damage, and other losses. We firmly believe that you should not have to pay the price for someone else’s carelessness, and we’re prepared to do what it takes to see that you don’t.
Let us help you in your time of need. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as engaging in any activity that diverts a motorist’s attention away from the task of driving. When a driver is not focused on what they are doing and what is happening around them, they will have a harder time anticipating and reacting to potentially dangerous situations, making it much more likely that they will cause or be involved in a collision.
Types of Distracted Driving
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list three types of driver distractions:
- Manual– A manual distraction is anything that makes a driver take one or both hands off the wheel. If a driver is not gripping the steering wheel with both hands, it is harder for them to maintain safe control over their vehicle. That, in turn, makes it harder to react quickly to potential dangers on the road.
- Visual– A visual distraction is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. If they are not looking at the road, they cannot see what other drivers are doing, upcoming intersections, road work, and other potential hazards that could lead to an accident. In extreme cases, a visual distraction could mean that a driver does not know a collision is imminent until the moment it happens.
- Cognitive– A cognitive distraction is anything that takes a motorist’s focus off the act of driving. If they are not concentrating on what they are doing and watching the road for potential safety concerns, they are much more likely not to notice a hazard that could lead to a crash.
Some driver distractions fit into more than one of these categories at the same time. For instance, texting while driving is so dangerous because it is an example of all three types of driver distractions: it causes the driver to take their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road, and their attention off the task of driving. Driving distracted is a danger to everyone on the roadway.
Examples of Distractions While Driving
The number of potential driving distractions has only increased as cars have become more technologically advanced.
Common examples of distracted driving behaviors in South Carolina include:
- Talking on a cellphone
- Sending or reading a text message
- Using a GPS navigation device
- Eating or drinking while in motion
- Adjusting the music or temperature in the vehicle as it is moving
- Grooming or applying makeup while driving
- Talking to other passengers in the vehicle
- Dealing with kids or pets in the vehicle
- Focusing on unrelated accidents (“rubbernecking”)
Distracted Driving Statistics
Distracted driving is a serious safety issue for everyone who uses South Carolina’s roads, as you can see from the following distracted driving facts:
- There were 7,427 crashes statewide in one recent year for which distracted driving was listed as the primary contributing factor, according to the Department of Public Safety. These collisions led to 2,367 injuries (including 70 serious injuries) and eight deaths.
- According to the NHTSA, 3,142 people nationwide died in distracted driving accidents that same year.
- In another recent year, about one in every five people killed in distracted driving accidents nationwide was not inside a vehicle at the time (i.e., pedestrians and bicyclists), according to the CDC.
- According to a survey from that same year, about 39 percent of U.S. high school students who drove in the past 30 days admitted to sending a text message or email while driving during at least one of those days.
- The South Carolina Department of Insurance reports there is a distracted driving accident roughly every two hours.
- The South Carolina Department of Insurance also reports that distracted drivers are 90 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who are not distracted.
- Teen drivers are more likely than drivers in any other age group to be killed in a distracted driving accident, according to the South Carolina Department of Insurance.
- A driver traveling at 55 mph will have crossed the length of a football field in the five seconds it takes to send or read a text message.
Injuries After a Distracted Driving Accident
Passenger vehicles weigh several tons and can travel over a hundred feet in a second, making them exceptionally dangerous when they’re not operated carefully.
As a result, distracted driving accidents often result in serious injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Severed, crushed, or amputated limbs
- Neck and back injuries (whiplash, herniated disc, etc.)
- Injuries to internal organs
- Internal bleeding
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries (sprains, strains, torn ligaments and tendons, etc.)
- Burn injuries
- Emotional distress (post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, etc.)
South Carolina Distracted Driving Laws
In response to the growing problem of distracted drivers on South Carolina roads, state authorities have taken steps to deter drivers from these dangerous behaviors. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, it is illegal to use any “wireless electronic communication device” (which includes cellphones) to send, read, or compose a text message while operating a motor vehicle.
However, you are allowed to send or read a text message if you are using a hands-free system in your vehicle. There are also exceptions in the law, such as when summoning emergency assistance and for public officials who are performing their jobs.
How to Prove a Driver Was Distracted
Proving a driver was distracted at the time of an accident can be challenging because there may not be available evidence that immediately implicates the driver. Distracted drivers rarely admit to breaking the law and acting carelessly in this way.
However, our Clinton distracted driving accident attorneys can help you make your case for compensation by using evidence like:
- Cellphone records– By looking at a driver’s cellphone records for the moments leading up to an accident, we can see if they were talking on the phone or texting before the collision, which could suggest that they were distracted.
- Surveillance footage– Traffic cameras or private security cameras may have recorded the driver talking on the phone, sending a text message, or engaging in some other distracted driving behavior. This evidence can be persuasive in a distracted driving accident claim.
- Eyewitness statements– Someone else may have seen the driver talking on a cell phone or texting before the collision, which can be compelling evidence. However, even if an eyewitness did not directly see a driver texting or talking on the phone, they may have seen them driving erratically or showing other signs of being distracted.
- Police accident reports– Details from the police accident report may show the driver acting erratically before the collision, indicating that they were distracted or otherwise negligent.
- The driver’s account of the collision– While not common, drivers will sometimes admit they were distracted when talking to police or someone else. In other cases, an attorney could establish that a driver was distracted if they seemed confused about what happened or couldn’t recount the moments leading up to the collision.
Damages You Can Recover After a Distracted Driving Accident
If you have been injured in an accident in South Carolina that a distracted driver caused, a Clinton car accident attorney can help you seek compensation for the losses you may have incurred, such as:
- Your pain and suffering
- Your emotional distress
- Your reduced quality of life
- Your medical bills
- Your lost wages and reduced future earning potential
- Your damaged personal property
Get in Touch with Our Clinton Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers
Our Clinton distracted driving accident attorneys know how catastrophic these crashes can be. We want to help you seek the compensation you need for your injuries and related losses. We do not charge any fees unless we secure compensation first, and we offer free consultations to all prospective clients. Our office is right on North Broad Street in Clinton, but if you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you. Call the Joye Law Firm in Clinton today or visit our contact page for a free consultation.