In this blog, we’ll discuss how distracted drivers can cause accidents and what you need to do if you were in a car accident caused by a distracted driver.
Distracted driving can be anything from cell phone use to eating or drinking while driving. While these seem like harmless acts, distracted drivers can cause serious accidents. And they should be held accountable for driving carelessly, especially if they injured you in doing so. With cell phones and navigation systems being ever present in our daily lives, distractions are almost inevitable while driving.
According to data from Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT), at least 72 deaths occurred in 2023 due to distracted driving accidents. Additionally, more than 15,000 crashes were a result of distracted driving.
Our Denver personal injury lawyers are here to help you if you were injured by a distracted driver in Denver, Colorado. Please read this article for more information and find out how we can help you.
What Is Considered Distracted Driving in Denver, Colorado?
Distracted driving is when a driver does not give their full attention to the task of driving or attempts to multitask while driving. In short, anything that takes a driver’s mind, eyes, or hand away from the act of driving is considered a distraction.
If something diverts the driver’s attention, it’s considered a distraction; whether it’s a cell phone, an accident in passing, or a conversation with a passenger, distractions can take many different forms. Even changing the radio station is a distraction because it requires the driver to take their eyes and hands off of the wheel. It’s pretty common to have multiple distractions occurring at once; imagine when you drop your kids off at school – you might be having a conversation with them while sipping a coffee and trying to drive all at once.
What Should I Do if I Was Injured by a Distracted Driver in Denver, Colorado?
If you were injured by a distracted driver, you should contact a Denver car accident lawyer. We have extensive experience in successfully handling a multitude of different types of distracted driving accident claims. You may have legal grounds to file a Denver personal injury claim, which we can guide you through. This would help you recover financial damages to pay for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, physical therapy, rehabilitation, property damage, and more.
Under certain circumstances, while rare, the injury victim can obtain punitive damages as well. These are intended to prevent the negligent driver from repeating their offense and penalize them for deliberate wrong-doing, rather than compensate the injury victim for damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which provide financial and other damage restoration to the injured victim, punitive damages are only appropriate after cases of drunk driving, or other forms of grossly negligent vehicle operation.
What Are the Three Most Common Categories of Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is dangerous because humans are not good at multitasking. Science shows that when our brains bounce back and force or constantly switch gears between different tasks, we become less efficient and more prone to make mistakes. This becomes even more true when we start talking about more complex tasks that require our active attention – like driving.
There are three main categories of distracted driving: manual, visual, and cognitive.
Any distractions that require the driver to take their hands off the wheel are considered manual distractions. This could be from texting, eating, reaching for something in a purse, changing the radio or climate controls, or handing something to someone, usually children, in the back seat.
A visual distraction takes the driver’s eyes off of the road. To name a few examples: looking at a phone, a navigation system, map, or making eye contact with a passenger are considered visual driving distractions. Anything that interferes with keeping your eyes on the road is a visual distraction.
A cognitive distraction is a mental or psychological distraction that takes the driver’s attention and focus away from the task of driving. Driving is an active and fast-paced activity that requires conscious awareness and quick reaction times. We all have things going on in our lives, but when we get overly consumed by thoughts that distract us from driving safely, we increase the risk of causing a collision. Daydreaming, texting, or thinking about your grocery list are common examples of cognitive distractions while driving.
Texting is by far the most dangerous type of distraction because it involves all three types of distractions. That is, when you text, you need to use your hands, eyes, and brain, which creates a tri-fold threat to the safety of yourself and others on the road.
Examples of Distracted Driving That Cause Accidents in Denver, Colorado
Distracted driving can happen in many different ways. Here are a few examples.
Daydreaming or Thinking About Other Things While Driving
We’ve all gotten lost in our thoughts while driving. The reality is that everyone has stress from work, school, kids, and other personal matters. And driving is the easiest time to get caught up in our thoughts. But you should try to focus on driving while you’re driving and worry about work, home, or school concerns while you’re there. Whatever you have going on in your life is important, but it’s not an excuse for distracted or careless driving. The last thing you want to do is cause an accident and injure someone because you were too distracted thinking about your work obligations.
Cell Phone Use (Especially Texting)
Cell phones seem to be glued to many peoples’ hands these days, even while driving. Despite laws in most cities that prohibit texting while driving, people still do it. For instance, Denver laws prohibit drivers under the age of 18 from any type of cell phone use while driving, while allowing adult drivers to use cell phones for voice calls and earpieces (only on one side). It’s illegal for all drivers, regardless of age, to text or engage in any other manual cell phone use while driving, such as writing emails or scrolling on social media.
Facebook and Instagram are not more important than the safety of other motorists, or your own safety. A car accident can happen in the blink of an eye, so it’s best to keep your phone away or out of reach if you can’t refrain from using it while driving. If you get into an accident and sustain injuries because a driver was texting or scrolling on their phone, you can hold them legally accountable for your injuries.
Getting Distracted by Another Traffic Incident
It’s natural to be curious about an accident in passing. But when you stare too long without looking at what’s in front of you, you risk causing a collision. This is called “rubbernecking,” which is when you slow down to stare at something for an extended period. Most often, this happens when there is an accident on the side or shoulder of the road, and people slow down and get distracted by the accident, leading to a chain reaction of accidents.
Passengers who distract drivers can be friends, family, pets, or even a virtual passenger. At least 77% of drivers in Denver have reported driving with their pets in the car, who often jump around and cause distractions. Many people don’t use any type of pet restraint for their pets, causing an even greater possibility for their pets to distract them while driving. Likewise, a chatty passenger can be a huge distraction while you’re driving. Whenever you have passengers, remember that it’s okay to respectfully let them know your priority is to focus on the road to get everyone to the destination safely.
Children are also common culprits for driver distractions. Young children often scream for different reasons. They could be having a meltdown, asking for attention, or simply screaming for fun. In any case, children can be very distracting to drive with. In fact, statistics show that parents take their eyes off of the road for an average of 3 minutes and 30 seconds for every 16 minutes they travel with their child in the car, which translates to nearly 25% of driving time spent with their eyes off the road.
Reaching for Items in the Vehicle While Driving
We’ve all been in that situation before. You’re running late and need to eat your food on the go. This is dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. While we all have time constraints and obligations to get to on time, it’s not worth causing an accident to reach for items while you drive. If you can, take a few minutes to stop and eat your meal so you don’t have any distractions while driving. You’ll probably enjoy your meal more that way, too.
Perhaps your toddler repeatedly throws their sippy cup, and you have to keep reaching back to pick it up for them. Or you are constantly looking at them through your rear-view mirror. Whatever you’re reaching for or looking at, taking your hands and eyes off the wheel for just a few seconds exponentially increases your odds of getting into an accident.
Changing the Radio or Temperature Controls
Taking your hand off the wheel, switching the temperature controls or changing the song on the radio can be dangerous. Try to at least keep your eyes on the road while you do this because if you take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road, the odds of a crash increase drastically. Alternatively, wait until you come to a stop at a red light to change the song.
Are There Laws Around Distracted Driving in Denver?
According to Section 42-4-239, C.R.S., distracted driving violations in Denver are considered a primary offense. As long as a law enforcement officer sees a driver using a mobile device and the driver is carelessly driving, they can issue a citation. Penalties can range from fines to misdemeanor charges or even jail time.
Distracted Driving Can Cause Serious Collisions That End in Severe Injuries or Death
Driving distractions are everyday occurrences. While they don’t seem that serious, even the most simple distraction can lead to an accident that injures or kills someone. The consequences of distracted driving are usually anything but minor and can lead to serious injuries, including:
- Death (If your loved one died in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, we can discuss filing a wrongful death lawsuit.)
- Traumatic brain injuries (T.B.I.)
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Internal organ injuries and bleeding
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Cuts and bruises
- Broken bones
- Sprains and strains
- Facial injuries, such as fractured eye socket
- Severe burn injuries
Helpful Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents
No matter what age or background you come from, if you’re driving in Denver, you have a legal duty to drive safely and responsibly. Negligent driving can have a major impact on someone else’s life. Not only will they live with the consequences, but you’ll probably also suffer feelings of guilt, shame, and regret for causing an accident while you were distracted. Here are a few easy ways to avoid distracted driving accidents to keep everyone safe on the roads:
- Educate your teen drivers about safe driving. Teach them not to text while driving or browse the internet while driving. The greatest way to teach younger children and youth is to lead by example – which means practice what you preach and stay off of your phone while driving.
- Teachers and employers can talk to students or employees about the dangers of distracted driving and encourage them to drive responsibly. All it takes is a few minutes of raising awareness to prevent a lifetime of damage.
Even if you don’t fall into one of these categories, you can still raise awareness about distracted driving and safe practices. For example, you can share information on social media or talk to your loved ones about the importance of staying focused on driving. This probably hits home for you if you or a loved one was injured by a distracted driver.
If a negligent driver caused an accident while they were distracted and injured or killed you or a loved one, you have a right to seek financial recovery. Contact a Denver car accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Our attorneys are compassionate and understanding, and we are ready to help you if you were injured due to another driver’s negligence. For more information, contact us online or give us a cal or textl at (720) 500-HURT for your free initial consultation.