Distracted driving has rapidly risen to a major public health risk in recent years. As the number of options for smartphones, navigation systems, in-vehicle entertainment and information systems has ballooned. Even drivers who wouldn’t normally answer the phone may succumb to the temptation when it is the boss calling, texting or emailing.
Regardless of the underlying cause of distraction, drivers are responsible for any crash caused by negligence, or the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in an injury to someone else. Failure to pay attention to the road shows a lack of reasonable care on the part of a driver. Prompt legal advice from an experienced Sarasota car accident attorney can help injury victims protect their legal rights.
The Facts About Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a significant problem for road users in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving contributed to 3,477 deaths and nearly 400,000 injuries in 2015 alone.
The Hartford Courant reports on a distracted driving study conducted by Travelers Insurance which focused on calls, texts, and emails related to work. Travelers found that about half of all people aged 18 to 44 admitted to making work-related communications while driving.
Distracted driving has become the focus of much media attention and significant advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels. Despite this, it continues to account for thousands of deaths in America every year.
Why do so many drivers continue to allow themselves to become distracted? In the case of work-related communications, drivers often feel pressure to respond. The Travelers study also found that one of every four millennials who made work-related communications while driving did so because they didn’t want to upset their boss. A quarter of employees surveyed reported that their boss had called or texted them even though they knew the employee was driving.
What Employers and Employees Can Do to Promote Driving Safety
Distracted driving can result in legal liability to both the employer and employee. If the employee causes a car accident while driving on work-related business, the employer can be held vicariously liable for the accident, while the employee can be held directly liable. Because of this, both employee and employer are incentivized to reduce distracted driving. Employers should set workplace policies about distracted driving. Such policies should be clearly communicated to employees and enforced by managers.
Employees, too, must clearly set boundaries about distracted driving. In some cases, the boss simply does not know that the employee is driving and cannot safely respond. Clear communication can help resolve the confusion. Advise supervisors before any trip or extended period of driving. Many phones now come equipped with “do not disturb” features which make automatic responses to calls, texts, or emails. This can let an employer know that it is not safe to respond without diverting the employee’s attention from the road.
Regardless of the reason a driver becomes distracted, he or she is liable for injuries caused by negligent driving behaviors. Consult a Sarasota car accident attorney to determine who was legally responsible for causing your car accident and what sources of compensation may be available to you.