Picture this: It’s late at night, you’re coming home from work, and you want to make sure your significant other has food ready for you. You’re at a red light, assume it won’t change anytime soon, and pull out your phone to text them.
The light changes, but you’re not done texting. You’ll only be looking away from the road for a minute. It’ll be fine, right?
You hear a crunch. A thud. Screaming.
A pedestrian rushed across the crosswalk as the light changed. A pedestrian you failed to notice because you were distracted by your phone.
Distracted driving accidents accounted for 8.5% of fatal car accidents in 2019. Here’s what you can expect if you or a loved one contributes to that statistic.
Who Gets Involved in Distracted Driving Accidents?
It’s easy to think that only “other people” get involved in distracted driving accidents. However, the cold hard truth of the matter is that anyone can become involved in one, regardless of how carefully they drive.
The reason for this is how easy it is to drive distracted. We all know about cell phones and texting while driving, but what else can cause you to drive distracted? Let’s discuss this in further detail below.
What Counts as Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is, as the name would suggest, driving while distracted. Everyone knows about the increase in texting and driving deaths, as evidenced by the fact that 48 states banned it as of 2019. However, you can drive distracted in many other ways.
Examples of this include, but are not limited to:
Driving Under the Influence
This is almost as large a cause of distracted driving accidents as texting while driving. Thankfully, as with texting and driving, most states have laws on the books prohibiting and harshly punishing this type of distracted driving.
Cell Phone Usage
We’ve said it many times before, and we’ll say it again, texting while driving is bad. It impairs your focus almost as much as driving while drunk. Even using your phone to talk hands-free might be too much of a distraction.
It can wait. Set up an auto-response indicating that you’re driving, and wait until you’re parked to respond.
Talking With Passengers
Piggy-backing on the above point about talking on your cell phone proving a distraction, talking with your passengers can also cause you to miss crucial information while driving. This is especially true if you turn your head away from the road and towards your passengers while you talk.
Consuming Food or Drink
Eating or drinking while driving keeps your attention on your food and at least one hand off the wheel. That means that you’ll have a much tougher time controlling your vehicle in the event of a disaster.
Anything Pulling Your Attention From the Road
Are you adjusting the radio? Dwelling on that argument you just had? Trying to input an address into your GPS? Not looking at the bike lane, contributing to the bike accidents that occur each year?
Any of these can and have contributed to the increase in distracted driving accidents over the years.
What Consequences Can You Face?
So, you’ve been caught driving while distracted. Or worse, you’ve been involved in a distracted driving accident. What happens to you now?
It depends on your state, what specific distraction you were driving under, and what happened as a result.
If You’re Caught on Your Phone
You can expect at least monetary fines in most states. In some states with more stringent statutes, you could face Class B or C criminal misdemeanor charges. Worse, if someone else gets hurt or killed, you could wind up in jail.
If You’re Caught Driving Drunk
You’re more than likely going to prison for at least a night, or until someone can post bail. Your driver’s license will be suspended. You may even have your car impounded. Additionally, you’ll have to report for a court date regarding your DUI offense later on.
Depending on your circumstances, you might even be forced to attend DUI classes or pay even further fines to the state.
For Other Types of Distracted Driving
As mentioned above, the consequences you face for your distracted driving when it doesn’t fall under an existing statute can vary depending on what happens as a result. These include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of driver’s license
- Vehicular manslaughter charges if someone else dies
- Higher insurance premiums
- Getting injured or even killed
- Totaled vehicle and high repair costs
- Potential lawsuits for damages to property and people
This only covers the financial and legal damage that your distracted driving may cause. This doesn’t include any emotional or psychological harm done to all parties involved in the accident. Nor does it account for your own emotional damage if you wind up accidentally injuring or killing someone due to your distraction.
Consequences of Distracted Driving Accidents
The consequences of distracted driving accidents are long-lasting and severe.
It’s easier than you might think to become involved in one when all you need to do is anything that distracts you from the road. If you do get involved in such an accident, the consequences can range from simple monetary fines and car damage to death and jail time.
No matter what you feel you need to do, it’s not that important. It can wait until you’re no longer driving.
If you found this article on the consequences of distracted driving helpful, check out the automotive or lifestyle sections of our blog today for more content just like this!