Negligence is the legal term for carelessness, and it comes into play in the majority of motor vehicle accidents. All drivers owe those around them a duty of care whenever they get behind the wheel, so negligence can be any behavior that disregards the safety of others. Further, some negligent behaviors are widely known to increase the risk of a crash. When someone causes a serious crash while drinking and driving, texting, or tailgating, for example, fault and negligence can be easy to prove.
Examples of negligent driving include:
Driving Under the Influence
In the United States, nearly 30 people per day die in drunk driving accidents, and alcohol-impaired driving crashes account for 28% of roadway fatalities. Even one drink can impair someone’s ability to drive. Outside of alcohol, legal and illegal drugs are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle accidents. If someone hits you with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of any level or with marijuana or another drug in their system, they can be found civilly liable. Anyone operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.8 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood is also guilty of a criminal offense.
Our firm, Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, can help you with any auto accident case that involves drugs and/or alcohol.
We can also help you with cases involving distracted driving. In 2018, distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives and this behavior can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The National Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA) defines distracted driving as, “any activity that diverts attention from driving,” and lists examples like:
- Talking or texting on the phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to people in your vehicle
- Wrangling children or pets
- Adjusting the stereo, in-car entertainment, or climate control
- Programming a navigation system
- “Anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes 3 main types of distracted driving. Visual distraction occurs when you take your eyes off the road, manual distraction involves taking your hands off the wheel, and cognitive distraction happens whenever your mind wanders from the task of driving.
Texting and Driving
Texting while driving is an especially dangerous behavior because it combines all 3 types of distraction. Additionally, sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. When you are traveling at 55 mph, this is like driving across an entire football field with your eyes closed. Truck drivers and other motorists are all susceptible to texting and driving and other distracted driving behaviors.
If you are harmed by a distracted driver, we can help you file a personal injury lawsuit.
Another dangerous activity is driving without enough sleep. Americans are chronically sleep-deprived, which can lead to problems on the road. Because they drive such long distances, truck drivers are extra susceptible to fatigue.
Not only can drowsy driving lead to drivers falling asleep at the wheel, but it can also:
- Make paying attention to the road more difficult
- Slow reaction time for sudden braking and steering
- Affect drivers’ decision-making abilities
The NTHSA estimates that drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2014, and the CDC argues drowsy drivers cause up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year.
The Automobile Association of America (AAA) defines aggressive driving as:
“any unsafe driving behavior, performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety.”
Most often, aggressive driving takes the form of:
- Speeding (particularly in heavy traffic)
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Driving or passing where prohibited
- Cutting in front of other drivers
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Blocking cars from passing or changing lanes
- Running red lights
- Using brakes or brights to “punish” other drivers
All of these factors can cause or contribute to traffic accidents.
Sometimes, aggressive driving goes a step further and turns into road rage. Road rage refers to intentional crime crimes committed by angry drivers, sometimes with their vehicles. Ramming, sideswiping, and forcing drivers off the road are all instances of road rage, and occasionally those who commit road rage get out of their vehicles or follow other drivers to their homes to commit violence. Precursors to road rage include cursing, rude or obscene gestures, and throwing objects. The best way to avoid road rage incidents is to avoid angry or aggressive drivers. If you feel unsafe or you are being followed, you can always drive to the nearest police station.
Other Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents
In countless situations, drivers simply make preventable mistakes or fail to yield and/or adhere to the rules of the road. Whenever someone else’s behavior causes your accident and injuries, you are entitled to pursue damages and legal action.
Occasionally, auto defects also cause car accidents. These situations have more to do with the negligence of manufacturers, but we can also help you address cases like this.
We would be honored by the opportunity to put more than 25 years of experience on your side.