It’s the Holiday Season! Everyone is rushing around to finish last minute shopping, attend holiday parties, and take out-of-school children to activities. We live in the digital age which gives us the ability to do anything, and almost everything, from a cell phone. It is easy to feel the need to multitask from a cell phone while driving, but it is not SAFE for you, your family, or anyone on the road.
Did you know that distracted driving causes 25% of all vehicle collisions? Contrary to what some believe, there are ways for police and lawyers to determine whether you were using your phone while you were driving. Surely, you know it is not safe to text and drive, but did you know that anything that can distract you while driving can be considered “distracted driving”? Even eating or drinking or watching your GPS can distract you from the road. The bottom line when determining whether you are distracted driving is to use common sense, we all know when we are driving and not fully paying attention.
The holidays are a dangerous time to be on the road, especially with the increase in drinking and driving. You must practice defensive driving and you can’t do that if you are distracted. The US Department of Transportation estimates that on average 300 people died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Make sure your family stays safe this holiday season by following some of our SAFE tips to Stop Distracted Driving:
S-Set a Plan. Make any calls/texts/emails that you need to make before your trip. Even calling through the bluetooth in your car can be a distraction. Make sure any children in the car have what they need for the trip: a drink, a book, a toy, whatever they need to keep them busy so they don’t need anything from you while you are driving. Set up an autorespond to send a text when you are driving to let anyone texting you know you are driving at the the moment and you will respond once you get to your destination.
A-Always Be patient! It is easy to get frustrated by someone else when they are not driving well. The best thing to do is to stay away from that vehicle. Sometimes that might mean slowing down to stay behind them, or letting them go in front of you. Watch AND stop for pedestrians, even if they walk in front of your vehicle on purpose.
F-Focus Make sure you are watching everyone on the road and reacting safely. If there is construction or traffic, it might be better to take a different route. Arriving safely is more important than getting to your destination 5 minutes faster.
E-Example. If you do have children, they watch and mimic your every move. This includes the way you drive. Driving UN-distracted will help them to be safer drivers. Teenage drivers are going to make mistakes on the road and hopefully they will be small mistakes that do not cause an accident or harm to anyone. There are several apps, such as Life360, that can help you monitor your teen driver (or anyone driving your child) by providing information such as: if they are using their phone while driving, what speed they are driving, if they have been in an accident, etc.
Ann Groninger and Valerie Johnson at Copeley Johnson & Groninger recently tried a North Carolina wrongful death case before a jury in Durham County in which the driver was distracted and hit and killed a cyclist. The driver, Russell Rutledge, was using his cell phone to text, email, and make and receive phone calls while driving. The jury found that $4,500,000 was fair compensation for the estate for Mr Rotberg’s tragic and wrongful death.
Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC wishes you, and your family, a SAFE and Happy Holiday season!
A certified workers’ compensation specialist, Valerie represents state employees, union members, police officers, and all types of North Carolina workers. She also teaches trial skills to third year law students at the University of North Carolina School of Law and has taught workers’ compensation law at Wake Forest University. Listed in Best Lawyers in America in the area of workers’ compensation, Valerie was admitted to the National Academy of Social Insurance in 2011.