Distracted Drivers 2nd Most Common Cause of Accidents in North Carolina

According to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDOT), distracted drivers are the second most common cause of car crashes in the state behind speeding.

According to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDOT), distracted drivers are the second most common cause of car crashes in the state behind speeding. In 2007, the most recent year with available crash data, there were 1543 fatal crashes in the state and more than 121,000 injuries. It is estimated that an accident causing injury or death occurs every 6.5 minutes on a North Carolina roadway.

North Carolina's Texting Ban

In an attempt to curb the number of distracted driver accidents, the General Assembly passed a texting ban that went into effect December 1, 2009. Under 20-137.4A, it is a traffic violation for any driver in the state to use any technology associated with a cell phone while driving. In addition to texting, other prohibited activities include e-mailing, taking photos, listening to, or downloading music, using the Internet or playing games on a mobile phone while driving.

A violation of the texting law is a primary offense, which means that the police have the authority to issue citations to drivers whom they witness violating the law. The penalty is currently set at $100 per violation, but drivers are not assessed points against their driver's license for the infraction.

The ban only applies while the vehicle is in motion; drivers can still send and read text messages while their cars are pulled over on the side of the road or stopped. There is also an emergency exception for law enforcement personnel and ambulance drivers who may need to send or receive text messages as part of their official duties.

Nearly Half of States Have a Texting Ban

Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving. Within the past year, there have been several studies released showing that texting while driving is the most dangerous driver distraction - even more so than talking on a cell phone.

A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that texting while driving is more dangerous than drinking while driving. According to the study, drivers impaired by alcohol have a four times greater risk of being involved in a car crash as compared to non-impaired, non-distracted drivers. Conversely, the study found that drivers who text behind the wheel are at a 23 times greater risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident than non-distracted drivers.

Another study released in 2009, by the University of Utah, found that drivers who text while driving have a six times greater chance of being in a car crash. The study also found that drivers who text have a significantly reduced reaction time due to the amount of attention they must devote to typing and reading text messages. The study found that drivers who talk on a cell phone have a 9percent percent slower reaction time as compared to non-distracted drivers, while drivers who text have a 30percent percent reduced reaction time as compared to non-distracted drivers.

Other Driver Distractions

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 80percent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by distracted drivers. While cell phone use and texting are two of the most dangerous driver distractions, they are not the only ones. Other common driver distractions include:

Talking to passengers
Eating/drinking while driving
Listening to music
Watching a movie
Operating GPS systems, MP3 players and other electronic devices
Putting on makeup
Reading a newspaper or book
Reaching for something within the car
Watching something outside of the car
Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road is dangerous and potentially can have devastating consequences. Inattentive drivers can cause serious, permanent injuries to others, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Even less serious injuries received in a car accident can result in chronic pain and have other life-long consequences.

What to Do if You have been in an Accident

In North Carolina, the average cost of a car crash is $50,000. If the accident resulted in serious injury, this number soars to $1.8 million per crash. When a car accident is caused by the negligent acts of an inattentive driver, victims of the accident should not have to pay for their losses alone.

Under the law, those who have been injured in a car accident have the right to bring a personal injury claim against the responsible driver. Some of the types of compensation that may be available include:

Past and future medical expenses
Lost wages
Loss of earning capacity
Property damage and replacement costs
Permanent disfigurement
Pain and suffering
Attorney fees and court costs

If you have been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights. Your lawyer will begin collecting evidence to support your claim, including locating and interviewing any witnesses to the accident. For more information, contact an attorney experienced in handling motor vehicle crash claims today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Law Office of J. Neal Rodgers
The Law Offices of J. Neal Rodgers, PLLC, are a solo practice based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Attorney Rodgers has been committed to serving the community of Charlotte and surrounding North Carolina areas since 1993. As an experienced personal injury lawyer, J. Neal Rodgers fights for maximum compensation and justice for clients. Mr. Rodgers is supported by a staff of exceptional paralegals, each with the same dedication to helping you achieve justice.

Copyright The Law Offices of J. Randolph Ingram II
More information about

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Find a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer