Public awareness of the dangers of impaired driving has been rising steadily over the past few decades. And statistics do show that more people are making smart choices to avoid driving while they are impaired (taxis, ride-sharing, designated drivers have all helped). Meanwhile, the statistics regarding distracted driving are more and more alarming each year. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, the number of deaths caused by distracted driving has doubled over the last 20 years. In the Province of Ontario, a person is injured in a distracted-driving-related collision every 30 minutes and 80% of collisions involve some form of driver inattention. At no time is distraction more dangerous than behind the wheel.
The Canadian Automobile Association notes that if a driver is texting while driving, they are 23 times more likely to be in a collision or near-collision event. Reaching for an object while driving increases the chances of a collision by 9 times; talking on the phone increases the chances of a collision by 5 times; and, applying makeup increases the chances of a collision by 3 times.
What Are Common Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents?
Distracted driving is governed by Section 78.1 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act which prohibits drivers from texting, emailing, typing, dialing, and calling without hands-free mode on a hand-held communication or entertainment device while driving. Violators of this law may be subject to a fine between $400.00 and $1,000.00 and may also have three demerit points applied to their driving record.
The use of a hand-held device while driving is one of the main causes of distracted driving accidents. Such devices include smart phones and GPS devices (if not dashboard mounted). However, the reality is that the use of hand-held devices and distracting technology is just part of the problem. Even where devices are not hand-held, and are instead operated by voice command, drivers who are engaged with someone or something else can be distracted just as much. Their attention is divided, and studies show that their reaction time and perceptions are not as quick or sharp as they would be if they were focused entirely on driving.
The following driving behaviours are dangerous distractions and can also cause serious accidents:
- Eating or drinking;
- Attending to children or pets;
- Searching for something in a bag;
- Reading maps or printed directions;
- Setting GPS coordinates, a dashboard clock, or other instrumentation; and
- Engaging in a stressful or demanding conversation with a passenger or on the phone.
Accidents arising from impaired or distracted driving can be among the most serious and tragic, as they often involve young people and cars filled with friends or family members. Driving a car safely requires the driver’s full attention, and passengers should not hesitate to remind their driver that he or she needs to focus on the traffic and on driving safely.
Claims arising from accidents caused by impaired or distracted drivers can be complex and demanding. The investigation of an impaired driving case can lead to questions about who served the driver alcohol and whether a party host or bar might be partially responsible. Accidents arising from distracted driving can require that evidence be acquired from passengers, witnesses and from any data recorder (or black box) the car might have been equipped with.
The lawyers at McNally Gervan have advanced many claims for serious injuries and damages arising from accidents caused by impaired and distracted driving.
If you have a question or need assistance, our team of personal injury lawyers is here to help. We know every personal injury case is unique and we work hard to ensure that our clients are fairly compensated. We know it’s personal.