Just how dangerous is texting while driving in Louisiana and across the country? The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute or VTTI in an April 2013 study it conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that text messaging while driving doubled the risk of a motor vehicle accident or near-accident. VTTI also discovered that texting took drivers’ eyes away from the road for a whopping 23 seconds on average.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, texting is a particularly serious distraction while driving because it involves the three main types of distraction: visual, manual and cognitive. In addition, the CDC reports that texting distracts a driver more often and for longer spans of time than other distractions do.
Unfortunately, people do text and drive, and they do not always understand the risks. In 2011, the NHTSA took a national telephone survey of more than 6,000 drivers 18 and older. Almost one-fifth of the respondents admitted to sending texts or emails while driving, especially those in their early 20s. Interestingly, about one-quarter said that texting or emailing “makes no difference on their driving performance,” a misconception strongly dispelled by the VTTI findings of highly increased risk.
So the numbers support what common sense tells us about the peril of texting and driving, a kind of distracted driving not imaginable a generation ago. Across the country and in Louisiana, a negligent and reckless driver whose texting causes a motor vehicle accident resulting in the injury or death of another is legally responsible in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Like many other states, Louisiana bans texting while driving for all types of licensed drivers. Texting and driving is a primary offense in the state, meaning that a driver can be stopped for the behavior, not just ticketed for texting when pulled over for some other violation.
In a personal injury lawsuit in which an at-fault driver had received a citation for texting and driving, the moving violation would be considered “negligence per se,” meaning that the legal infraction itself is automatic proof that the offender was negligent. While this could be important evidence for a plaintiff suing for damages in a civil lawsuit, the traffic citation would not be necessary for a finding of negligence, just a way for the finding to be automatic without further proof.
Any Louisianan who is harmed in a car crash involving a distracted driver, texting or otherwise distracted, should seek the guidance of an experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The lawyer can investigate the incident on behalf of the injured party to gather important evidence for possible use in a personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff may be able to recover monetary damages for the injuries and losses.