A Closer Look at Distracted Driving

There are many reasons auto accidents happen but driver error is at the top of the list. While most car, truck, or motorcycle accidents seem to be the result of another’s negligence, others are due to a vehicle malfunction or a government agency’s neglect to properly maintain a road. This week we’ll investigate some of the reasons for accidents and what the impact is on Michigan’s roads.

Distracted Drivers

Distracting activities are common for drivers on the road to deal with, but it takes discipline to not let that affect their actions. Distracted driving is most commonly a result of driver negligence or other things occurring that inadvertently draw their attention. These include eating, drinking, talking to passengers, applying makeup, reading, using a navigational system, watching a video, adjusting the radio, making a phone call, or texting.

While on the road other accidents or construction, inclement weather like heavy rains or more may be considered a distracted driving scenario even if it was not caused by the driver. For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2017, speeding was a contributing factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Road Rage Accidents

Unfortunately, road rage is a common cause of car accidents on Michigan roads. When drivers are more likely to get angry behind the wheel, they may be prone to speeding, making aggressive maneuvers, tailgating, or even trying to run another driver off the road.

Under Michigan Vehicle Code, this type of angry and reckless driving can result in a misdemeanor charge, as well as a civil claim if another driver is injured as a result. Even if a driver is not convicted for their road rage, they might still be held civilly liable for a motorist’s injuries if their actions or distracted driving was determined to have caused the crash.

Driver Fatigue

Similar to the effects of alcohol while driving, fatigue causes reduced reaction time, decreases awareness, and can in general impair a driver’s judgment. As a result, accidents involving exhausted drivers are common and often lead to serious accidents. While any driver without sufficient sleep can be a danger to themselves and others, there are common at-risk groups for exhausted driving conditions, including drivers who are younger and less experienced, individuals working long hours or night shifts, commercial drivers who spend many hours on the road, and anyone with medical conditions related to untreated sleep disorders.

Some states have enacted or at least considered legislation that would allow law enforcement officials to charge drowsy drivers with criminal negligence if they injure or kill someone while driving under these conditions. While this type of law has not been put into place in Michigan, it could be a possibility at some point in the future. Regardless, a victim of a tired motorist’s negligent driving has legal rights to pursue an injury claim for compensation. Driver fatigue could even be identified in a police report as the reason for causing an accident.

We’ll outline additional examples of distracted driving as part of our Thursday blog post.

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