According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted drivers cause hundreds of thousands of auto accidents in the United States each year. Texting while driving is now among the most common causes of serious and fatal collisions—and it is a cause that is completely avoidable.
Despite the well-known risks, many drivers still engage in this dangerous behavior. In doing so, they put themselves and others in harm’s way.
While the enactment of Washington’s distracted driving law resulted in an approximately 25 percent reduction in distracted driving fatalities in 2018, preliminary data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission show a slight rise in 2019. As such, distracted driving accidents are still far too common.
With this in mind, all drivers need to be aware of the risks, and drivers and passengers alike should know how to spot the warning signs of a distracted driver. Texting while driving is like having a drunk driver on the roadway! If you or a loved one was injured or a family member was killed in an auto accident with a distracted driver, call Fuller & Fuller at (800) 570-4878 today.
7 Potential Warning Signs of a Distracted Driver
Distracted driving is dangerous because it not only takes drivers’ minds off of the road, but in many cases it takes their eyes off of the road and their hands off of the wheel as well. Here are seven common signs that a driver is distracted behind the wheel:
1. Drifting Out of the Lane
Drivers who are not paying attention to the task at hand will often drift out of their lane. If another vehicle in your vicinity drifts into the next lane or onto the shoulder, this could be a sign that the driver is distracted. This is especially true if a nearby vehicle drifts more than once in a short period of time.
2. “Bouncing” from One Side of the Lane to the Other
In addition to drifting out of their lanes, distracted drivers will often “bounce” from one side of their lane to the other. With driver assist technologies that are designed to keep vehicles in their lanes, this is becoming an increasingly common sight on Washington’s roadways.
3. Failing to Maintain a Consistent Speed
When a driver is concentrating on an email or text message instead of the road ahead, that driver will frequently find it difficult to maintain a consistent rate of travel. Additionally, in many cases, distracted drivers will slow down significantly, either because (i) they have become so distracted that they have forgotten about maintaining their speed, or (ii) they think that slowing down will compensate for the risks that they are taking by talking on the phone, sending text messages, reading emails, or using social media behind the wheel.
4. Waiting Too Long to Brake
Waiting too long to brake is a common (and extremely dangerous) sign of distracted driving. When a driver is not paying attention to the road ahead, he or she will not see brake lights, traffic lights, stop signs, and road hazards that require slowing down or stopping. As a result, rear-end collisions are particularly common when drivers are distracted behind the wheel.
5. Not Accelerating Promptly When a Light Changes or Traffic Begins to Move
Just as distracted drivers will often brake too late, they will often fail to accelerate promptly as well. If a driver is consistently failing to advance in stop-and-go traffic, or if a driver sits at an intersection despite his or her light turning green, this is usually a fairly good indicator that the driver is paying attention to something other than the road.
6. Lights Inside the Vehicle
When driving at night, lights inside of a car, truck, or SUV can be indicative of distracted driving as well. This light may be emanating from the driver’s cell phone screen, or the driver may have turned on a light in the vehicle in order to look for something (i.e., his or her cellphone) in the cabin.
7. Looking Down While Driving
Lastly, if you see a driver looking down instead of looking at the road, these days this usually means that the driver is looking at his or her phone. If you see a driver who is not paying attention to the road, you should try to slow down or change lanes in order to avoid remaining in a dangerous position.
Many of these issues could be signs of other risky driving behaviors. Regardless, when you observe someone driving dangerously, it is best to leave plenty of space between your car and the other vehicle, and drive defensively until the driver no longer presents a threat (i.e., until he or she turns onto another road).
What If You Are Hit by a Distracted Driver?
While you can mitigate your risk by driving defensively, in some circumstances it simply will not be possible to avoid a distracted driving accident. If you are unable to avoid a collision, it is important to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options for recovering compensation.
You may be entitled to damages for the losses you sustain as a result of an accident with a distracted driver. An experienced lawyer can build a strong claim on your behalf.
Contact a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer Today
At Fuller & Fuller, we are committed to aiding in the fight against distracted driving. We have decades of experience helping victims of distracted driving accidents recover just compensation.
If you or a family member suffered injury or you lost a loved one in an accident with a distracted driver, please call (800) 570-4878 today to discuss your case. Our law firm has served Olympia and other areas of Washington for over 45 years.