Distracted driving has become an increasingly deadly problem on American roads, and some of the worst of that problem is here in Kentucky.
That's according to USAA, which recently released data on smartphone-related distracted driving throughout the United States for the first half of 2023. Kentucky ranked 10th in the nation; according to the study, Kentucky drivers spend 13.8% of their time behind the wheel distracted by smartphones. The national average is 12.1%.
This is nothing short of a safety and public health crisis. Every year, more than 3,000 Americans lose their lives in car accidents caused by distracted driving, according to the NHTSA. Motorists in Kentucky and across the country need to put their phones down and keep their attention on the road.
Understanding the types of distracted driving
The USAA report focused only on smartphone-related distractions, but it's important to remember that there are many things that can take a motorist's attention off the road: eating, drinking, talking to passengers, self-grooming, turning to look at something on the side of the road, and even simply adjusting the radio. Broadly, there are three categories of distractions behind the wheel:
- Manual distraction: anything that takes the driver's hands off the wheel.
- Visual distraction: anything that takes the driver's eyes off the road.
- Cognitive distraction: anything that takes the driver's mind off the task of safely operating the vehicle.
Some types of distracted driving fall into more than one category. Texting and using smartphone apps while driving are particularly dangerous because they fall into all three categories. The driver has at least one hand on the smartphone; their eyes are focused on the screen rather than the road; and their mind is focused on using the phone instead of the important task of driving. Moreover, the cognitive portion of that distraction lingers for some time, even after the driver puts the phone down.
The high cost of distracted driving crashes
Distracted driving may not seem as immoral as drunk driving or aggressive driving, but it can be just as deadly to the person hit by a distracted driver. The nature of distracted driving means the victims are often pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users who have little protection in the event of a collision.
Moreover, distracted driving is a choice. If a text message or email can't wait, then it's important enough for the driver to find a parking lot, rest area, or safe place to pull over on a side street. While on the road, safety always comes first. When motorists fail to meet their responsibilities, they need to be held accountable.
What to do if you were hit by a distracted driver in Kentucky
There are a few steps you need to take right away after a distracted driving crash. First, document everything. Get the name, contact information, and insurance information for the other driver, as well as names and contact information for any witnesses. Take pictures of the scene and make note of any nearby cameras. Every piece of evidence can affect the outcome of your case.
Second, get medical attention right away. That's critical to protect your health; even if you feel okay, you may have hidden or delayed injuries. Seeing a doctor also creates a record of your injuries to support your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Then, talk to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible, before you talk to the insurance company. We need to start our investigation immediately before evidence disappears and legal deadlines expire. If you were hit by a distracted driver in Louisville or anywhere in Kentucky, contact us immediately for a free consultation.