Distracted driving is a leading cause of car and truck accidents, resulting in injuries and fatalities on the road. Identifying if a driver was distracted at the time of an accident is crucial for establishing liability and seeking appropriate compensation.
There are various methods and evidence sources that can help determine if a driver was distracted. By understanding these strategies, your attorney can strengthen your case and hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions so that you do not have to pay for any medical bills, pain, and suffering you experienced as a result of the accident. An experienced vehicle accident attorney from Glisson Law can assist you in this often complex legal process.
What you should know about using a cell phone while driving
Cell phone usage is a leading cause of distracted driving. Phone calls, text messages, videos – they all take a driver’s attention away from the road.
According to the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, “Illinois law prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones, texting or using other electronic communications while operating a motor vehicle. Hands-free devices for Bluetooth technology is allowed for persons age 19 and older.”
Engaging in phone calls, even with hands-free technology, is still considered a distraction while driving and carries inherent risks. It is strongly advised to find a safe location and pull off to the side of the road before making a phone call, even if you are using hands-free technology. This precautionary measure helps ensure that your full attention is dedicated to the task of driving, minimizing the potential dangers associated with distracted driving. By taking this responsible approach, you prioritize safety and reduce the risk of accidents or incidents on the road. Remember, it’s better to be cautious and proactive when it comes to using phones while driving, as the consequences of distraction can be severe.
In Illinois, the use of a cell phone that is not hands-free is strictly limited to specific situations. These include:
- Reporting an emergency situation: If you find yourself in an emergency and need to contact authorities or request assistance, using a cell phone that is not hands-free is allowed. It is crucial to prioritize your safety and the safety of others by promptly reporting the emergency.
- When parked on the shoulder of a roadway: If you have pulled over and safely parked your vehicle on the shoulder of a roadway, you may use a cell phone that is not hands-free. However, it is important to exercise caution and ensure that you are in a safe location away from moving traffic before using your phone.
- When stopped due to traffic obstruction: In cases where normal traffic flow is obstructed, and your vehicle is in neutral or park, you are permitted to use a cell phone that is not hands-free. This exception recognizes that in certain situations, such as heavy congestion or traffic delays, drivers may need to use their phones while stationary.
It is essential to note that outside of these specific circumstances, using a cell phone that is not hands-free while driving in Illinois is prohibited by law. This restriction is in place to enhance road safety and minimize distractions, promoting responsible and focused driving practices. By adhering to these regulations, you contribute to a safer driving environment for yourself and others on the road.
But how can we prove another driver engaged in this risky behavior?
Police reports and witnesses
One of the first steps in investigating driver distraction is obtaining the police report. The report may include information about any citations issued to the driver, observations made by the responding officer, and statements from witnesses. Eyewitness testimony can be valuable in determining if a driver was distracted. Witnesses may have seen the driver using a cellphone, engaging in other activities, or exhibiting erratic behavior that suggests distraction. Their accounts can provide crucial insights into the driver’s actions leading up to the accident.
Cell phone records and usage
Obtaining cell phone records can be a powerful tool in determining if a driver was distracted by texting, talking, or using mobile applications while driving. The records may reveal call or text activity at the time of the accident. Subpoenaing cell phone records requires legal procedures, and an experienced attorney can assist in this process.
Additionally, smartphones and vehicle infotainment systems often have event data recorders that store information about phone usage, such as calls made or received, text messages sent or received, and app usage. This data can provide solid evidence of distraction if it aligns with the time of the accident. If you were in a collision with a commercial vehicle like a semi-truck, there may be additional information available through the truck’s black box or any other recording devices or software.
Video footage from traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, or dash-cams can be invaluable in determining driver distraction. These recordings may capture the actions of the driver leading up to the accident, such as texting, using a navigation system, or engaging in other distracting activities. In some cases, the footage may also reveal the driver’s inattentiveness or failure to respond to traffic signals or other hazards.
Commercial trucks often have dash-cams active, as well as GPS logs of their driving, and an event data recorder (EDR). According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, “EDRs may record (1) pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status, (2) driver inputs, (3) vehicle crash signature, (4) restraint usage/deployment status, and (5) post-crash data such as the activation of an automatic collision notification (ACN) system.”
Expert witnesses and accident reconstruction
Expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists, can provide professional opinions on driver distraction. They analyze various factors, including vehicle damage, skid marks, and witness statements, to recreate the sequence of events leading up to the accident. Their expertise helps determine if driver distraction played a role in the collision. These experts can also analyze the driver’s behavior and actions based on the available evidence, offering insights into whether distractions caused or contributed to the accident.
Admission of distraction and social media activity
In some cases, the driver may admit to being distracted at the time of the accident. Statements made to the police, in witness interviews, or on social media platforms can be compelling evidence. It is important to preserve and document any such admissions, as they can strengthen your case.
Determining if a driver was distracted during an accident is crucial for establishing liability and pursuing fair compensation. By utilizing police reports, witness testimonies, cell phone records, video evidence, expert witnesses, and admissions of distraction, we can build a strong case against a distracted driver.
At Glisson Law, our legal team has over 30 years of experience in fighting for the rights of those injured in car accidents. Let us help you. If you have been injured due to someone’s distracted driving, call us or use our contact page, and we’ll schedule a free appointment to discuss your options. Glisson Law is based in Alton and proudly serves clients in Belleville, Edwardsville, St. Clair and Madison Counties, and throughout Illinois and Missouri.