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Winnebago County distracted driving accident lawyersBy now, most people have heard about the dangers of texting while driving or other types of distracted driving. However, studies show that a significant number of motorists are still dangerously distracted while operating a vehicle. In 2017, over 3,000 people nationwide lost their lives in accidents involving distracted drivers, and countless more were injured. If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you may be able to receive compensation for your damages.

Types of Distracted Driving

Although we often hear about the dangers of texting and driving, this is not the only form of distracted driving which causes serious auto accidents. Some motorists have actually admitted to checking social media or using other phone applications while driving too. GPS devices are also a major cause of distracted driving. However, electronic devices are not the only thing that takes our attention off of the road. Studies have shown that activities like eating, changing the radio station, searching through a purse or wallet, and smoking while driving also increase the chances of being involved in an injury-causing motor vehicle accident.

Perhaps the most under-recognized type of distracted driving occurs when a driver is distracted by his or her passengers. A study conducted by Monash University found that children are an astounding 12 times more distracting than cell phone use while driving. In fact, researchers found that parents take their eyes off the road for an average of over three minutes per every 16-minute trip.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysSmartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other and get information about the world. Smartphones are so wonderful that some people have trouble putting them down, even while driving. The statistics about texting and diving are grim: over 1,000 people are injured every day in auto accidents caused by distracted drivers. If you were injured or someone you love was killed due to the inattention of another driver, you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Texting While Driving Is Reckless and Irresponsible

Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving because it integrates visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Trying to text or otherwise use a cell phone while driving means that a driver takes his hands, eyes, and mind off the road. Someone who is texting and driving is essentially driving blind. If a driver is traveling at 55 mph and looks away from the road for only five seconds, he or she has already traveled the length of a football field.

 Because of the great danger it poses to other drivers and pedestrians, Illinois bans texting and driving by law. Illinois motorists may still talk on the phone while driving, but only using Bluetooth technology or a hands-free device. Recently, Illinois imposed even stricter penalties for distracted drivers which will start in July 2019. Those caught texting while driving will now face more serious penalties for violating the law including possibly having their driver’s license suspended.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysCell phone use—particularly texting while driving—has become a serious problem in America. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 1.2 million accidents are caused by texting and driving each year. Those numbers, however, may be far lower than the reality because the police rarely investigate to determine whether or not an accident was caused by cell phone use. However, skilled auto accident attorneys can help to uncover this information and may even be able to help their clients seek punitive damages for their injuries.

Why Texting and Driving Accidents Are So Serious

Studies that have been conducted on distracted drivers have suggested that cell phone use one of the most dangerous forms of distraction. In fact, one study found that, while the body tries to compensate for other forms of distraction through a flight or fight reaction, that same compensation is not present when using a cell phone and driving. This is because the brain relies heavily on hand-eye coordination to activate this defense mechanism, and texting takes that coordination away. As a result, the accidents that occur due to texting and driving often cause serious injuries.

Your Injuries and Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not often seen in auto accident cases. However, when a driver “willfully and wantonly” causes harm to another person, such as in accidents with drinking and driving or the use of a cell phone, victims may be due added punitive damages. Unfortunately, obtaining such damages is not an easy task. Knowledge of the law and of penal codes is required. This is why every victim who suspects that texting or talking on the phone while driving may have been a factor in their accident should seek skilled and experienced legal assistance.

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Winnebago County car accident lawyersThere is little argument against the fact that smartphones and other hand-held technology has dramatically changed Americans’ lives in the last few decades. We use our phones for everything from texting and calling to GPS navigation, social media, “Googling” information, and even streaming video. Unfortunately, some people choose to do these things while driving. Even though some mistakenly believe that they can “multitask” while driving, the reality is that doing anything other than driving while behind the wheel greatly decreases a person’s ability to safely operate the vehicle.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in car accidents caused by a distracted driver in 2015. During the same year, a shocking 391,000 people were injured in these types of accidents. A countless number of public service announcements and campaigns have attempted to decrease the number of people killed or injured by distracted driving incidents each. Many states have enacted laws to make using a cellphone while driving illegal or to require the use of hands-free devices. Unfortunately, some people continue to endanger others by using their phone at the wheel.

Cell Phones Are Not the Only Dangerous Distraction

The tricky thing about cell phone use legislation is that many everyday occurrences can be even more distracting while driving. For example, studies show that talking on a hands-free phone or through a Bluetooth connection may be just as distracting as using a handheld phone. In fact, the simple act of talking to another person inside the car can be distracting. Australian researchers found that the presence of children in a vehicle is 12 times more distracting to a driver than using a cell phone. Startlingly, the research also showed that people driving with children in the car take their eyes off of the road for more than three minutes of a 16-minute trip on average.

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