In previous blogs, our attorneys have warned motorists of the many dangers associated with distracted driving. Whether an individual is drinking and driving, texting and driving, playing the radio loudly, or simply driving with a vehicle full of passengers, distractions can increase the risk of an accident occurring and therefore increase the risk of serious injuries to those involved. This was the case on Monday when a man was injured in a two-vehicle accident after taking his eyes off of the road.
Our personal injury law firm learned that the accident took place in Newman on U.S. 36 at 11:55am. According to News-gazette.com, a 21-year old man of eastern Illinois was driving west on the interstate, about a third of a mile west of Illinois 49, when he approached a Freightliner truck. State police report that the driver told authorities he had intended to pass the truck, but failed to do so once he looked down for a few seconds; when he looked back up, he realized he was too close to the truck and rear-ended it.
The driver was taken by ambulance to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana and is currently in stable condition. He was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. The 61-year old truck driver remained unharmed. Both vehicles had experienced a significant amount of damage as a result of the collision, and police stated that both drivers were lucky to walk away from it.
Accidents similar to this are all too common in Illinois and in almost every other state throughout the country. Though the specific reason as to why the driver looked down is unknown, the change in focus that lasted for only a few seconds could have potentially caused long lasting results.
With a dramatic advancement in technology in recent years, cellphone usage has skyrocketed and now unfortunately occurs more while driving than ever before. Because texting or handling a cell phone while driving is illegal in Chicago, many drivers set their cell phones down on their laps while driving and look down to use it. These drivers are easily identifiable because their attention is focused on their laps and not on the road. Many of these drivers assume this action is better than taking one or both hands off of the wheel to text, when in reality, it is causing an increasing amount of rear-end accidents, unintentional lane changes, and passes through red lights and stop signs.
Illinois agencies statewide are raising awareness of the dangers of texting while driving by reminding motorists to “Drive Now. Text Later.” A U.S. Transportation Secretary has also launched an online web series to reveal the serious consequences of driver inattention. From the perspective of our lawyers, distracted driving is a factor in more than one million accidents in the country every year. Every time a driver takes their focus off the road, even for just a few seconds, they put their lives and the lives of others in danger. This is unfortunate considering that the causes of driver distraction can be so easily preventable.
If you need to use your cell phone while driving, pull over to a safe place on the side of the road in order to do so. It is generally a good habit to turn your phone off before you step behind the wheel so you won’t be tempted to use it. Besides cell phone usage, driver inattention can also result from adjusting seat positions, radio dials, or mirrors while driving. Making these adjustments before you leave is an easy way to prevent distraction in your vehicle. Finally, tending to children and eating or drinking in the car are two actions that have also proven to be extremely dangerous; pulling over to the side of the road is encouraged in these situations as well. In the case that you are driving attentively and notice other drivers who are facing distractions in their vehicles, it is advised to either avoid them or let them pass you to avoid the risk of a rear-end collision.
If you or someone you know has suffered in an accident due to a negligent motorist, please contact our law firm to discuss what legal options may be available to you.