June 12, 2023
Auto Accident

Despite widespread awareness campaigns and laws against texting while driving across all 50 states, many people continue to engage in this reckless behavior. Drivers who text while behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to be in a crash than those who don’t engage in texting while driving.

Drivers who text and crash are usually held liable for the resulting injuries. However, recent legal actions may indicate that those who send texts to someone they know is driving may also bear responsibility for the collision.

Understanding your legal responsibilities as a sender can help you avoid sending texts to a person behind the wheel and avoid legal action from an injured driver.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving and Texting Behind the Wheel

With the increasing use of technology, texting while driving is one of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, 57 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2020, up from 47 in 2019

National statistics are equally alarming. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021.

Driver Inattention

Texting while driving diverts drivers’ attention from the road, causing them to be less aware of their surroundings. Drivers who text behind the wheel take their eyes off the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is equivalent to the length of a football field.

Cell phone use while driving is also linked to more risky driving behaviors, including speeding, lane-changing, and hard braking, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Endanger Other Road Users

When a driver engages in texting while driving, they are not just putting themselves at risk but also jeopardizing the safety of other people on the road. Distraction-affected crashes led to the deaths of 587 pedestrians and bicycle riders in 2020.

Cause Severe Injuries

Distracted driving is a leading cause of injuries on the road. The NHTSA reported that across the country, 14% of police-reported traffic crashes in 2020 were attributed to distracted driving, and crashes caused by cell phone use accounted for approximately 30,000 injuries.

Liability and Legal Precedents

Under Alabama statute 32-5A-350, texting, writing, and sending texts while driving is illegal. If an accident results from distracted driving, the driver is responsible for damages to the other involved parties.

However, there have been instances in which the sender of a text message may be liable for an accident. In the 2013 case of Kubert v. Best, the New Jersey Court of Appeals stated that the sender of a text message can be responsible for an accident if it is caused by texting. This liability requires the sender to know or have reason to believe that the driver will read the message and be distracted from safely operating their vehicle.

Although this opinion was made in New Jersey, it has set a precedent that can place partial liability on you if you text a driver knowing it may distract them on the road. Being mindful of who you’re texting and their driving situation can help prevent potential car accidents and minimize your liability.

Preventing Distracted Driving Accidents Through Responsible Communication

Preventing distracted driving accidents involves responsible communication and avoiding activities that can take the driver’s focus away from operating the vehicle, such as texting.

Texting while driving is particularly unsafe. It involves visual, cognitive, and manual distractions, taking the driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off driving. The following alternatives can help you prevent texting-related accidents whether you are the driver or trying to communicate with someone behind the wheel:

  • Use a hands-free device: Most smartphones have built-in voice assistants, such as Siri or Google Assistant, that can make calls, send texts, or even read your messages aloud. Pair your phone with a Bluetooth headset or your car’s infotainment system to use these features safely.
  • Pull over: If you need to send or read a text, look for a safe location, such as a parking lot or rest area, and use your phone there.
  • Ask a passenger for help: If you have a passenger in the car with you, ask them to handle any communication while you focus on driving.
  • Use a driving mode app: Several apps can reduce distractions by disabling text alerts.
  • Avoid texting a recipient you know is driving: If you know the person you are texting is behind the wheel, avoid messaging them. Ask them to let you know when they arrive at their destination so you can communicate after they are safely parked.

We Can Help You After Your Distracted Driving Accident

No message is worth risking your safety and the safety of others on the road. Avoiding distractions and prioritizing safe driving as a driver, and not sending texts to friends or family on the road can help prevent accidents and stay focused on the road ahead.

If you have been involved in an accident due to texting while driving, the Alabama car accident lawyers at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers can help. We will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve and protect your legal rights. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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