At this point, I wonder if anyone really does not know that distracted driving is dangerous. The media has covered it, public service announcements have been done, police departments have increased enforcement, our State legislature has passed stricter laws about it. Yet, distracted driving continues to be on the rise. For some of us, we just can’t seem to give driving our full time and attention despite knowing the dangers. In fact, according to one study, Tennesseans are the worst in the nation when it comes to distracted driving with distracted driving in our State being five times the national average. Read on for more stats and what you can do to protect yourself from distracted driving.
Every year, almost 24,000 car crashes are caused by distracted driving. Sixty-five crashes per day. Of course, that number only reflects the crashes that law enforcement can definitively tie to distracted driving. The number is almost certainly much higher. Distracted driving is more than just texting and driving. It is anything that distracts you from concentrating on the road and surrounding conditions. Distracted driving includes eating, putting on make-up, fiddling with the radio or navigational device, etc. However, most experts believe cellphones pose the biggest threat.
So what can you do? Here are important things you should know and some critical safety tips:
- Know the law. In Tennessee, since July 1, 2019, it has been illegal to hold a phone while driving a car or truck. One purpose of the law was to make it easier for law enforcement to spot a distracted driver. Fines for a violation can range from $50 to $200 depending upon the circumstances. While to some, that may not seem like much, you should remember it will also result in 3 points being added to your license (12 points results in a suspension) and will almost certainly cause a spike in your insurance rates.
- If you can’t resist the temptation of using your phone, then remove the temptation. Put your phone in the trunk. If you need your phone for navigation, then use one of the many apps available to restrict incoming calls and texts and set up your navigation before you begin driving.
- Let a passenger read and respond to emails, texts or phone calls. Likewise, ask your passenger to operate the radio or navigational device.
- If you must respond to a text, pull over. The same goes for anything else that will keep you from devoting yourself to the act of driving.
- If you have young drivers in your house, discuss the dangers and model good behavior. Many car insurance websites offer contracts and pledges for teen drivers. If your teen violates the rules, revoke their driving privileges or enforce other consequences. Ages 16-24 are at the highest risk for distracted driving.
- Be a defensive driver so that you might have more time to react to a distracted driver.
- Sometimes, there is nothing you can do to avoid an accident with a distracted driver, but you can make sure you are protected in the event you are seriously injured by one. Be sure your car insurance policy provides adequate underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). 1 in 5 drivers in Tennessee does not have any insurance at all and many only have the minimum limits. UM/UIM coverage will protect you in the event you are in a serious accident with a driver with no or minimum insurance coverage. To learn more about UM/UIM insurance, read more here.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident with a distracted driver, we offer a free, initial consultation where we will review the facts of your accident and let you know if we think you have a case and what needs to be done to protect your rights. Our award-winning lawyers handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win. To get started, give us a call at one of our three convenient Middle Tennessee locations:
We represent injury victims throughout the State so you can also reach us via our toll-free number: 866-812-8787.