young man texting while driving

Distracted driving crashes are a leading cause of accidents involving serious injuries or death. Unfortunately, this statistic may not mean much until you or someone you know is involved in a distracted driving crash. In recent years, texting and driving has become synonymous with distracted driving, however, there are many other types of distracted behavior that can cause an accident.

In this blog, Rizk Law shares updated findings on distracted driving, penalties for offenders, how the latest upward trend may be due, in part, to the ongoing pandemic, and why you may benefit from obtaining legal help after an accident involving a distracted driver. Contact our firm for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more.

Why Distracted Driving is so Risky

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 2,841 deaths due to distracted driving crashes in 2018. In Oregon alone, there were 13,603 distracted driving collisions between 2014 and 2018. A total of 20,992 injuries and 137 deaths were attributed to those crashes. Today, statistics show that a collision caused by distracted driving happens approximately every 2.5 hours in Oregon.

When people think of distracted driving, they usually think of texting, and while that is a leading cause, there are many other reasons people get distracted behind the wheel, including:

  • Using car technology, such as a GPS or radio
  • Picking up something that fell inside the car
  • Turning to tend to a child, a pet or another passenger in the vehicle
  • Eating or drinking while driving
  • Arguing with another passenger in the vehicle
  • Checking the mirror or doing personal grooming
  • Taking cellphone selfies, or engaging in video or Zoom chats
  • And more

When a motorist looks away while driving to read or send a text, it takes at least five seconds. That may not sound like much, but if a driver is going 55 mph, that is the equivalent of travelling the length of a football field with your eyes closed. In this situation, if a child darts into the road to get a ball, a driver in front of you slams on the brakes or the light turns red and a driver from the other direction jumps the green, you have no time to respond.

Is the Rise in Distracted Driving Crashes Related to the Pandemic?

According to Zendrive, a leading company that gathers and analyzes driver data to help improve road safety, distracted driving is on the rise. During the pandemic, Zendrive reviewed data collected prior to the first lockdown in January, after the lockdown in March, and again during the most recent surges in COVID-19 cases between October and November. These are the findings from this analysis in 2020:

  • Driver cellphone use increased by 17 percent
  • The number of collisions also increased by 63 percent
  • 57 percent of all crashes involved motorists using their cellphone within 60 seconds of impact
  • 17 percent of all crashes involve phone use five seconds before impact

Legal Help for Injured Victims

If you seek legal help, which we strongly recommend, an attorney knows how to obtain evidence that may help to establish liability, such as collecting evidence from the accident scene and analyzing the cellphone data of the at-fault party.

Along with pursuing compensation for your lost wages, medical costs and other losses, your attorney may also be able to help you pursue a claim for punitive damages against the at-fault driver. These damages are not intended to further compensate victims, but rather to punish the individual. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded for victims of drunk driving accidents or other serious car crashes involving drivers who behaved in an egregious or reckless manner, showing no concern for the safety of others.

Oregon’s Laws and Penalties for Distracted Driving

These laws may be read in full online, but essentially, if you drive in Oregon, you are prohibited from:

  • Using a handheld device, such as a cellphone, to talk – even while stopped at a traffic light
  • Using any handheld mobile communications device while operating your vehicle
  • Reading, writing or sending texts or email messages from a handheld device

For drivers under the age of 18, any cellphone use, handheld or not, is prohibited.

Penalties for Violations:

Oregon has some of the toughest Distracted Driving laws in the country. If you are pulled over for distracted driving and ticketed, you may be assessed with:

  • First offense – no collision: Class B Violation, fines between $260 and $1,000, and points on your driving record
  • First offense – with a collision: Class A Violation, points on your driving record and fines between $435 and $2,000

The penalties increase from here and may also result in up to six months in jail.

Call Our Firm to Get Answers to Your Legal Questions

At Rizk Law, we are committed to helping victims injured by the negligence of others in Oregon. We have a proven history and have recovered millions on behalf of our clients. Read what our clients have said about the services we provided.

If you suffered injuries due to the negligence of a distracted driver, our experienced Portland-based car accident lawyers are prepared to help. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about your unique situation and determine whether you may have legal options. While there is no obligation to hire our services, if we represent you, there is nothing to pay until your case concludes. We do not get paid unless you do.

Author: Rizk Law

Were you injured in an accident that was not your fault? Are your bills piling up while your pain and suffering seem to never end? Is an insurance carrier standing in your way of the money you need to get your life back on track? Then you need a lawyer who knows how insurance carriers think — and can fight them for the maximum compensation you deserve. You need Rizk Law.