In Alabama, all crashes involving injuries or property damage must be reported to the police. This requirement is usually taken care of when someone, whether it’s a person involved in the crash or a bystander, calls 911. Calling 911 dispatches emergency responders and a police officer to the scene.
When a police officer arrives at the scene of a crash, his job is to determine what happened, complete an accident report, and determine who or what was likely to be at fault. In today’s hyperconnected and digital world, distraction is more common than ever, especially behind the wheel, and it’s a common cause of crashes.
But how can police officers determine that drivers were distracted before they crashed, especially if they didn’t witness the accidents?
Sometimes, police officers don’t need to do much, if any investigating to find out the cause of a crash. Instead, the at-fault driver will freely admit to the negligent behavior that led to the accident. This is more common than you think, as accidents are traumatic and drivers can’t always think straight afterward. They may not realize that their statements can be used against them when they speak to the police or the insurance company.
Although drivers may think they’re being sly when they’re texting, emailing, or doing other distracting activities behind the wheel, the people around them often notice. It’s not hard to tell when a driver is distracted, as they may weave in and out of their lane, follow other vehicles too closely, or accelerate and brake erratically. Police officers often interview witnesses after crashes, and these witnesses can tell them when drivers appeared to be distracted before the collision occurred.
Certain crashes are more indicative of distraction than others. Rear-end collisions, for example, are often due to distraction. When drivers aren’t paying attention to the road, they don’t know when the drivers in front of them are slowing down or have stopped. All it takes is a second or two of distraction to be unable to stop in time to avoid a crash. Drifting into the path of other vehicles can also indicate distraction, as drivers who are looking at their phones may not realize they’re leaving their lanes.
Police officers can sometimes review electronic devices used by drivers who are suspected to be at fault for crashes. Checking their devices for evidence of activity just before crashes occurred, which can include reading or sending text messages and emails, visiting websites, or posting on social media, can provide significant clues about whether distraction may have played a role in the collisions.
There are only so many police officers patrolling Montgomery’s roads at any given time. But in some cases, officers and state troopers can respond to the scenes of crashes in seconds because they’re nearby when they occur. Because texting while driving is illegal in Alabama, officers are always on the lookout for distracted drivers. That means that they may already be aware when a driver is distracted, and if that driver causes a crash in their presence, they’ll know that it was one of, if not the primary cause of the collision.
Surveillance cameras, traffic cameras, and dash cameras are more common than ever throughout Alabama. These cameras can be extremely helpful when police officers are attempting to determine the cause of crashes and which drivers were at fault. In some cases, they can even show drivers using their phones or other electronic devices in the moments leading up to their crashes.
Alabama uses a system of compensation called contributory negligence. It means that when drivers are even 1% at fault for their crashes, they can’t recover ANY compensation! Victims must have zero fault assigned to them and have fault proven for the drivers who hit them.
At Vance Law Firm, that’s exactly what we do. Our Montgomery car accident attorneys know what to look for to determine if the driver who hit you was distracted, even if the responding police officer missed it in their initial investigation at the crash scene. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’re ready to go to work for you.