Parades are always happening in New Orleans. People wear masks, stores hold up various signs, and there seems to be a new attraction pop up every day. There are countless things to look at, so it’s no surprise to know that NOLA deals with distracted drivers on a regular basis.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides an alarming number of statistics:
- Distracted driving led to over 2800 lives in 2018 alone
- Over 400,000 people are injured every year because of a distracted driver
- 2.9% of drivers used a handheld cell phone while driving in 2017
Texting has been identified as one of the most alarming distractions. The time it takes you to send or read a text means that your eyes are off of the road for 5 seconds. When you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, you’ve traveled the length of a football field without looking.
Although many vehicles are designed to help you stay more alert, you still have to use those features. And if those features aren’t available, you have to commit to staying more focused.
No matter how great you think you might be at multitasking, you can’t take the chance.
Unfortunately, people take those chances each and every day. We live in a world where people are tied to their phones and tablets. They want to read their emails and update their social media statuses at all times.
Simply because someone is driving down the road doesn’t mean they stop wanting those updates. They may think that they can do both until, suddenly, they can’t.
A single text, call, or status update could cause a crash. You could crash into another car, a pedestrian, a cyclist, or even a tree on the side of the road.
Distracted Driving in Louisiana
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has identified that distracted driving has become a “dangerous epidemic.” It has been estimated that drivers across the state, on average, use their phones 2.4 times each time they get behind the wheel.
An average of 38 people die in Louisiana each year – and another 5400 are injured because of facing distractions while driving.
The good news is that there are some laws designed to keep drivers (and everyone else sharing the roads) as safe as can be.
There are quite a few activities that are prohibited when you’re driving:
- Writing, reading, or sending text messages
- Using social media
- Using cell phones in active school zones
- Using wireless devices of any type if a driver is under the age of 16
- Using a headset or headphones when driving
It’s important to note that while there are laws banning specific activities, authorities also say that anything other than watching the road can be a distraction. This can mean anything from reaching for something on the passenger floor, looking at passengers in the backseat, or even eating a beignet. Looking away from the road for even a second can result in a disaster.
Louisiana uses primary enforcement when it comes to distracted driving laws. This means that they can pull you over if they see you violating any of those laws. Other states may only use secondary enforcement, which means they’ll only cite you for distracted driving if you’re caught breaking another law (such as speeding or driving with reckless endangerment).
You should be aware that there are some steep fines for distracted driving in Louisiana, too. Adult drivers will often face fines of $500 for the first offense. Subsequent violations can result in a doubled fine as well as a 60-day license suspension. For drivers who have yet to reach the age of 18, fines can vary from $250 to $500 as well as license suspensions.
When you look at the fines in Louisiana compared to other states, it’s clear that the Bayou State is committed to reducing and eliminating distracted drivers.
Do your part by focusing on the road. If you find that you’re distracted in one way or another, pull over. Send your texts, read your emails, or eat your snack. Then, proceed back onto the road when it is safe to do so.
What Happens If You’re a Victim of Distracted Driving?
While you may do all that you can to pay attention on the roads of Louisiana, not everyone does. If you’ve been involved in an accident because someone else got distracted, it’s important to know that you have rights.
The first thing that you’ll want to do is make sure everyone is alright. Call the police to report the accident. If anyone is injured, be sure to identify this so that the necessary emergency personnel is dispatched.
Then, you’ll want to exchange information with the other driver. This includes contact information as well as details from your insurance card. This will allow you to follow up with a claim with their insurance.
Try to collect information from the scene. This can include photos of what happened and photos of where the accident took place. If there are witnesses, collect statements from them or at least obtain contact information so that the police and/or the insurance company can contact them at a later time.
There may be quite a few expenses that you have to endure because of someone else choosing to be a distracted driver. You may have car repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. It can be a lot to deal with – and there’s no reason why you have to deal with any of it on your own.
It’s important to call an auto accident lawyer in New Orleans to help you determine what should happen next. It ensures that you follow the necessary steps without losing valuable time that could have an impact on how your case is handled.
At Allan Berger & Associates, we represent drivers and passengers in the area every day. Call our firm at 504-526-2222 or contact us online today to set up a free consultation. We’ll review your case, answer your questions, and help you decide what to do about your accident.