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Victor C. Mitchener, Attorney

Joseph H. Downer, Attorney

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Study shows commuters inherently vulnerable to distracted driving

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

For many residents of Charlotte and the surrounding areas of North Carolina, commuting is a part of daily life. They are in their automobile to go back and forth to work, to take children to school, go on outings with family and friends, and for vacations. Being on the road for any amount of time will give drivers and passengers a window as to how risky it can be. Drivers are increasingly reckless, distracted and negligent. A recent study linked commuting with distraction and showed how problematic it is.

Harvard study shows that multitasking commuters drive while distracted

Researchers from the Harvard Business School interviewed commuters about their distracted driving habits and 87% confessed to using their devices to multitask while on the road. This is reported while 95% of Americans say distracted driving is an extremely dangerous activity.

Researchers spoke to 400 commuters. They were categorized as “knowledge workers.” This means that their job responsibilities center on expressing their ideas. They admitted that while they drove, they took part in a minimum of one other activity. It broke down as follows: 18% read emails; 9.5% replied to emails; 7.5% made calls; and 7% planned events.

This behavior is worrisome due to the prevalence of distracted driving accidents. An estimated 400,000 people suffer injuries in these collisions on an annual basis. Still, that is just an estimate because it is difficult to know when distraction was a factor in every case. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable. Auto accidents are increasing in frequency and a part of that is believed due to distraction.

What does North Carolina law say about distracted driving?

In North Carolina, the law is clear about drivers using their handheld devices when behind the wheel. Drivers cannot send text messages, emails or type for other reasons while driving. Nor can they read these messages. The same is true for commercial drivers. There are exceptions such as when the vehicle is completely stopped or parked.

Drivers who are emergency responders, law enforcement or firefighters can use their devices. People using the device for navigation can legally do so. If there is voice-operated technology, then it is legal to use. Drivers caught violating the law can be fined $100 plus court costs. There are no license penalties. As these laws show, the penalties are light and are unlikely to dissuade drivers from using their devices behind the wheel.

Knowing what options are available is key after a motor vehicle accident

After a motor vehicle accident, people’s lives can be radically changed and they will be unsure of what to do. A long hospitalization and extensive care can be costly. Missed time at work and the sudden inability to do the same job as before will lead to fear of how to make ends meet. Family members could find themselves caring for a loved one who has a litany of issues. When there is a fatality because of a crash, these concerns are made worse.

It is vital to have advice in these cases. They can be complicated and confusing and people may be overwhelmed. That can result in mistakes and accepting a substandard settlement from the insurance company. If distraction was a factor in the crash, this could be a crucial piece of evidence as the case proceeds. Discussing the situation with experienced professionals who care about their clients, focus on their needs and give comprehensive assistance can ease worries and be imperative from the beginning.