Accidents Involving Distracted Driving

“Distracted Driving” remains among the top causes for Illinois traffic accidents.  There are many types of activities that can constitute distracted driving.

Types of driving distractions

While distractions can be caused by many activities, distracted driving caused by cell phone usage and texting appears to be among the most common in the Chicago area, and has caused numerous accidents, some fatal.  One such accident involving a driver who was distracted by her cellphone is seen in the Chicago Tribune article titled “Cops:  Woman scrolling through phone strikes truck, pins man changing tire.”

Other types of distractions include:

  • emailing while driving
  • reading while driving
  • operating dashboard technologies
  • operating car entertainment systems
  • eating or other activities which cause the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel
  • “multitasking,” i.e. trying to perform other tasks at the same time as driving

As seen on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Distracted Driving page, the NHTSA definition for “distracted driving” is the following:

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

Fatalities and injuries attributed to distracted driving on a national scale are substantial.  As stated on the NHTSA page mentioned above:

In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.

Frequency of distracted driving

A CDC study in 2011 indicated that:

  • 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed
  • 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed

Hazards of texting while driving

Texting while driving is particularly hazardous, for a number of reasons.  One reason is that texting while driving distractions are frequent and protracted in nature.  According to the CDC, in the “Distracted Driving” section – texting is one distraction that takes the driver’s attention away from driving on a more frequent basis – and for longer periods – than other distractions.

Additionally, texting appears to be particularly prevalent among younger drivers.  In another 2011 study, the CDC found that “nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older text or email while driving.”

Illinois Accidents Involving Distracted Driving

There have been many Illinois accidents in which distracted driving played a role, in either contributing to or causing the accident.  Many of these crashes have either involved serious injuries and/or fatalities.  It should be noted that crashes involving distracted driving for many reasons may be underreported.

A few of these Illinois crashes include:

  • A May 4, 2017 fatal two-car collision in unincorporated Hampshire Township that may have involved distracted driving
  • A February 14, 2017 fatal Fox Lake motorcycle accident in which distraction may have played a role
  • A 2012 accident involving an alleged distracted driver in Northbrook

Many Illinois personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits have cited “distracted driving” as a source of negligence.

While many of the distracted driving accidents involve vehicles colliding with other vehicles, another type of hazard is presented to other roadway users, such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Distracted drivers pose a potential safety hazard to bicyclists and pedestrians as they may not “see” or otherwise realize the presence of these other people.  As seen in various Chicago area bicycle accidents, various types of accidents can occur,  including “left cross” accidents and “right hook” accidents.  For pedestrians, similar types of accidents can occur.  Distracted driving and “distracted walking” has been cited as a primary cause of pedestrian accidents.

Efforts Made To Deter Distracted Driving In Illinois

Given this traffic safety problem, there have been a variety of measures taken to try to limit the amount of distracted driving.  One such traffic safety initiative taken by the Illinois State Police (ISP) is discussed in the May 8, 2017 foxillinois.com article (with video) titled “Illinois Troopers Announce Distracted Driving Week Results.”

An excerpt from that article:

Illinois State Police say troopers issued more than 1,000 distracted driving citations during a weeklong enforcement campaign.

The inaugural awareness campaign kicked off April 24 and concluded April 28. Troopers also wrote up more than 980 distracted driving warnings and issued almost 6,500 citations and warnings for other vehicle code violations during the enforcement period.

Illinois Laws enacted concerning distracted driving

There have been a variety of laws enacted against distracted driving.  Illinois laws are summarized at the distraction.gov site page regarding “State Laws.”  Among the Illinois laws, texting while driving is illegal, and there is a handheld ban for drivers.

Injury Costs and Expenses 

In traffic accidents where the injury was the fault of another person or entity, many people seek compensation through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit.  This is especially so in the case of injuries with long-term impairments, disabilities, and other types of permanent injuries.  Furthermore, it is common for people who have been in serious accidents to also have numerous injuries, such as head injuries accompanied by injuries to the neck and/or spinal column.

Depending upon the characteristics of an accident, there are many types of expenses that can result from any injuries and permanent impairments.  Typically, medical bills may be (very) high, especially if the injured person does not have health insurance to pay for medical bills.  Even for those people who have insurance coverage, bills can be substantial, as many aspects of medical care, including diagnostic tests, medical procedures, surgeries, and various types of rehabilitation tend to be expensive.  Further increasing out-of-pocket medical costs are:

  • insurance deductibles
  • costs that aren’t covered
  • paramedic and ambulance fees, if applicable

Given these medical costs – as well as other direct and indirect costs discussed below -compensation sought in these lawsuits can include many different types.  Compensation types can include (but are not limited to) that for:

  • Medical costs (past, current and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of function
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Other economic damages

The Elman Law Group, Illinois personal injury trial lawyers, can provide an overview as to what types of compensation – as well as what amounts – may be reasonably expected given the specific characteristics of the accident, the injuries, and the overall legal and medical situations.

If you were injured in an accident, call Tony Elman, Lead Trial Attorney at the Elman Law Group, at (773) 392-8182 to discuss the accident and see what legal actions – including the filing of a lawsuit – may be appropriate.  This discussion is provided free of charge and is confidential in nature.

Elman Law Group, LLC has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for 25+ years, and during this time has handled over 10,000 personal injury cases.  Through this extensive experience, the Elman Law Group has built a reputation for its court trial performance.  As seen in many of its cases, this successful trial experience may (substantially) increase potential accident injury compensation.

Elman Law Group, LLC handles cases on a “contingency” basis…clients are not charged legal fees unless and until they get money.

Additional resources concerning distracted driving

Additional statistics concerning distracted driving, as well as additional discussion, can be found at the following links: