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Avoidable accidents: Distracted driving needs to stop

Young woman looking at her phone while driving

One Year After Tragic Louisville Fatal Crash, the Number of Collisions Involving Distracted Drivers Keeps Rising

It wasn’t so long ago that the Louisville community came together to mourn the passing of two mothers and their teen daughters who died in a violent Valentine’s Day car accident caused by a distracted driver.

On that day in 2020, a man in a work truck went to roll up his passenger side window and was momentarily distracted from the road. He drove into the center median on I-64 and hit the victims' car head-on.

It was one of the most tragic losses this community and the legal team at The Whaley Law Firm have witnessed in recent years.

Now, the epidemic that is distracted driving is on people’s minds once more because April is Distracted Driving Awareness month in Louisville and across the country.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is one of the most avoidable kinds of car accidents because it’s almost always a personal decision to engage in that kind of risky driving behavior.

Distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road. Typical examples of driving distractions include texting, eating, using smartphones or cellphones, and personal grooming such as shaving, brushing hair or applying makeup. There is no such thing as a “safe” distraction, but texting has been identified as one of the riskiest because of how long it takes a person’s eyes, hands, and mind off the road.

If you’re driving 55 mph and look down at a text for 5 seconds you have effectively driven the length of a football field - with your eyes closed.

The national Distracted Driving Awareness campaign includes increased police presence and enforcement of anti-distracted driving laws. There is also a media push to promote safe driving and things you can do to remove distractions from your vehicle.

Distracted driving was a factor in more than 3,000 deaths in 2019, according to the most recent information available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The total represents 10% more fatalities (about 300 people) than the prior year.

At The Whaley Law Firm, we have represented many Jefferson County victims of distracted driving accidents. Inspired by the national awareness campaign, here are some tips on how you can avoid distracted driving.

How to prevent distracted driving

If we want fewer people to drive distracted on the road, we need to be the change we want to see. Here are some tips from the national campaign on how you can avoid distractions while driving:

  • Pull Over. If you want to check the alert notification dinging on your phone or send a text, pull off the road to a safe location and use your phone there. Stopping at a gas station or parking lot is better than stopping on the side of the road. Pulling over is also advisable if you want to update GPS map settings, search for music, or otherwise use a handheld device in your car.
  • Give Someone Else Your Phone. Have a passenger hold onto your phone. That person can read your texts aloud and respond to them for you, enter directions, or whatever else you may need.
  • Store Your Phone Where You Can’t Get It. If having a phone nearby is too much of a temptation, it is best to remove that siren song from the driver’s seat. Store your phone in your trunk, glove box, or another place where you will not be able to access it while driving.
  • Speak Up. If you are the passenger in a vehicle in which the driver starts texting, shaving, dripping ketchup on their fries, or some other distracting behavior - say something about it. Hearing a message about safety often means more coming from a friend or loved one.

Kentucky's distracted driving laws

Every state has its own definition of distracted driving and laws regulating it. Kentucky’s distracted driving laws are less restrictive compared to other states.

In Kentucky, there are no restrictions for talking on a cellphone while driving. This goes for everyone except drivers under age 18 and people with an instruction permit, intermediate license, or operator’s license. For this group, no handheld device can be used while the vehicle is in motion. Using a cellphone, smartphone, or another handheld device for a medical emergency or to contact emergency responders is always permissible.

For all Kentucky drivers, it is illegal to use a personal communication device to read, write, or send a text while operating a motor vehicle that’s in motion. Using a GPS feature on your phone is okay in most situations, though.

The penalty for texting while driving is a $25 fine for a first offense and $50 for second or subsequent violations. Each distracted driving citation will add 3 points to your driving record. In Kentucky, if you are a driver over age 18 and you earn 12 roadway demerit points within a 2-year period, you could lose your license to drive.

In addition to the penalties, there are more serious related charges that often accompany a distracted driving allegation. These may include reckless driving and vehicular homicide.

A car accident lawyer can fight for the compensation you deserve

If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, it may look like you have a straightforward case that can be handled quickly and fairly by the insurance companies.

Looks can be deceiving.

At The Whaley Law Firm, we know there is no such thing as a straightforward claim when you have to go through an insurance company.

The insurance industry earns billions of dollars in profit every year by rejecting claims and bullying accident victims into taking too-small settlements. They will pretend they have an airtight case against you and try to blame you for the crash.

Don’t fall for it and don’t accept the insurance company’s version of events and fairness. If you or a loved one has been in a car wreck with a distracted driver, you need someone to push back hard against any potentially deceitful tactics by an insurance adjuster.

Attorney Aaron Whaley is aggressive in going after insurance companies that think they can take advantage of good people in his community. Our legal team knows that if we don’t fight for the compensation you're eligible to recover, you may face a lifetime of medical debt and struggle. If you didn’t cause the accident, you shouldn’t have to pay for it with your own money, health, and livelihood. That's why our law firm does not accept insufficient settlements for our clients.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We would be honored to go over the details of your potential case and help you weigh your best legal options.

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