New Federal Guidelines issued to address distracted driving

pulled_over_for_texting_and_drivingDid you know that the average person drives more than 290 feet for every five seconds they look away from their phone according to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)? Distracted driving is not limited to talking on a cell phone or sending a text message. Distracted driving is any activity that deters the vehicle’s operator from keeping their eyes and hands safely on the steering wheel at all times while the car is in motion or even paused at a red light. Activities that constitute as distracted driving include cell phone use, eating, applying makeup, brushing hair, and even changing the music in the vehicle.

If you have been injured because of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the justice you deserve. Read more below about how distracted driving can impact a life.

The danger of distracted driving

The United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety and Administration (NHTSA) reported that approximately 424,000 people were injured in car crashes, and 3,154 killed because of distracted drivers in 2013. It is important to be a safe driver not only for the driver’s wellbeing, but also for the passengers and pedestrians outside of the vehicle. Lawmakers are targeting young people for texting and driving because drivers 20 years old and younger represent 23 percent of all fatal car crashes. They also represent 38 percent of drivers who cause car crashes because of their cell phone usage.

What happens if I get pulled over for texting and driving?

Distracted driving is a serious matter. It is a secondary offence in Florida to text while driving. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) 46 states prohibit texting and driving and 37 states prohibit all phone use while behind the wheel for teen drivers.

As of right now you cannot be pulled over solely for texting and driving. To be pulled over you have to commit another traffic law violation while also texting. Examples of offenses that may result in a ticket for texting include speeding or driving through a red light. Under current vehicle and traffic law, if you are caught texting and driving, no points will be added to your license. However, two points will be added with the first offence if the law was broken in a school zone. Similarly, if your texting results in a crash, six points will be added to your license.

If you or someone you know experienced a car crash involving a distracted driver, or if you have been ticketed or charged with an offense involving distracted driving, The McIntyre Law Firm is here to help you through the legal process. Call our experienced attorneys today at (844) 511-4800.

Can I use headphones when driving?

distracted_drivingIt may seem harmless. Listening to a podcast with the earbuds on during a long commute. Or jamming to a little 90’s hip hop to wake you up before the coffee kicks in. Using a hands free device might even seem helpful. It helps keep your hands on “ten and two”, right? Unfortunately, headphones and earbuds can take your attention away from the environment around you and cause you to be a distracted driver. And because of that, laws either prohibit or restrict their use in many states.

Rules surrounding the use of headphones while driving fall into three categories, states that allow you to use headphones while driving in most situations, states that do not allow you use headphones while driving and states that allow you to use headphones but with several restrictions. Currently, 32 states and the District of Columbia allow drivers to use headphones while driving. In Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland and Rhode Island, it’s illegal to use headphones and earbuds while driving in most, if not all circumstances.

In Florida, drivers are prohibited from having headphones or earbuds in both ears while driving. They are, however, allowed to have them in one ear. The same is true in California, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio. In Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington there are a number of variations on the rule that depend on the type of device being used, and in some cases, the county that you are driving through. For a specific breakdown of rules involving driving with headphones or earbuds, visit this collaborative article by Lifehacker and AAA: http://lifehacker.com/5902802/ever-wonder-if-its-actually-legal-to-wear-headphones-when-youre-driving.

With so many vehicles driving on the roadways each day, safety and focus are critical. Anything that takes away from that greatly increases you chances of a crash. If you were involved in an auto crash due to a distracted driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. right away. They can evaluate your case and help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 844-511-4800.

Pokémon Go is the New Distracted Driving

pokemon_go

People slamming into trees. Or cop cars. Players running into traffic. Anxious competitors jumping off cliffs. Brakes, bruises, injuries, all in pursuit of that cute, little, wait a minute, what are those creatures in Pokémon Go anyway?

Pokémon Go is the latest gaming craze (see phenomenon) in which players use iPhone and Android phones to search and find 100’s virtual Pokémon characters. The Pokémon characters can be located in parks, malls and other public areas. Sounds fun? It can be. However, some players are so consumed by the virtual world for which the game is played that they’ve blocked out real world hazards, like traffic, restricted areas and dangerous terrain. Some people even have thousands of Minecraft Servers that they can get to share with the people they play.The craze for games is not just a children’s thing.

Others, in pursuit of Pokémon characters, have engaged in distracted or reckless driving. Reckless driving is already a national problem attributing to 5,000 deaths a year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The Pokémon Go craze provides additional potential for harm with a number of high profile accidents taking place in the first two weeks of the game’s launch. In Baltimore, MD, a man slammed into a police cruiser while playing Pokémon Go. A driver in Auburn, NY slammed into a tree while playing the game. Thankfully, no major injuries were reported in either crash.

The same could not be said for two young men in California who fell nearly 90 feet from a cliff while chasing after a Pokémon character. Both were taking to a local trauma center with unspecified injuries. There are also reports of a 15-year-old girl in Western Pennsylvania who was hit by a car while playing the game and crossing a busy highway. She was treated for injuries to her collarbone and foot.

We at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. have a provided a few tips to help you stay safe while playing Pokémon Go:

  • Do not play Pokémon Go while driving – Thankfully, the people in the distracted driving examples that we mentioned previously were not fatally injured that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen in the future.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – It’s important to stay cognizant of your surroundings, not only to avoid walking on to roadways but to ensure that you are staying out of other dangerous situations, including armed robbery. Beware of suspicious situations.
  • Do not trespass on to others’ properties or restricted areas – Along with distracted driving and entering potentially dangerous situations, some Pokémon Go players have entered private property or restricted areas in order to be successful in the game. Both cases have already proved problematic and there have been a number of complaints about players entering areas of reflection like United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in search of characters.

What’s important to realize is that Pokémon Go, while engaging, is only a game and not worth incurring harm to yourself or others. If you are involved in an incident in which you are hurt, contact the catastrophic injury attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. They will work with you to ensure you get the justice you deserve. Contact them today at 844-511-4800.

 

How Smart is Your Smartphone When it Comes to Automobile Accidents?

Distracted driving claims are on the rise.  With the increased use of portable and hand-held devices, it comes as no surprise to see more states instituting bans and fines for the use of phones to talk or text while driving.  Distraction.gov reports that approximately 424,000 people were injured and 3,154 people killed in distracted driving accidents in 2013.

Proving that a cell phone caused a distracted driving incident can be challenging, but often times a trail of electronic evidence can lead to results. Defendants often deny texting or talking at the time of the crash and certainly will not be willing to offer up their personal cell phone records. Further, this information would not include areas of modern smart phone usage such as whether the user accessed the internet, sent email messages or posted via social media websites. Even if using an electronic device while driving is not illegal in the state where the accident occurred (such as Florida), liability and negligence can still be proven with phone records to demonstrate usage as a distraction and it is better to contact lawyers from Goldberg Finnegan serving Silver Springs when you are facing this crisis .

Personal injury lawyers may be able to obtain cell data in certain situations to determine whether a person alleged of causing an accident was talking, texting or otherwise using their phones while driving. The mere fact you possess a phone is not enough to entitle someone to discovery of the other person’s cell phone records.  Typically, gaining access requires a subpoena or some other form of authorization allowing you to do so, and a request for production by an attorney must specify electronic data.  Privacy is another issue you will face when attempting to collect data information and there are several acts designed to protect individuals when it comes to releasing any details about their personal electronic communications.

Evidence of a driver using a cell phone at the time of an accident may be provided by other sources, such as witness testimony. Once access is granted to the defendant’s communications, a certified forensic expert can assist your lawyer in analyzing the electronic files as well as any internet activity pertinent to your case.  Capturing the activities that took place on the mobile device is key to creating a record of internet or cell data usage and how it relates to the timing of the accident.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the various nuances of collecting mobile device data will help determine if this is a possibility in your personal injury case.  Obtaining electronic evidence in a distracted driving case can be accomplished, and you should contact your lawyer to discuss whether this option is available to you.  For questions on the content of this article, contact TJ Grimaldi at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A.

In Dash Technology: Are Federal Regulations Needed?

Roads are already dangerous places. With the increased prevalence of cell phones, smart phones, navigation systems and other distractions, drivers are paying less and less attention to actual driving. In addition, to keep up with growing reliance on technology, many new cars offer features that integrate these distractions into the car. Many cars now offer an in-dash ability to make phone calls, look up gas prices and check Facebook.

Distracted driving is becoming a serious problem. In the last year alone, over 3,000 people in the US were killed in car accidents caused by in-car distractions, despite the recent passage of laws to govern phone use while driving. Ten states have laws banning the use of hand-held phones while driving and 35 states have a complete ban on texting while driving.

For example, California banned both handheld cell phone use and texting. As a result, there has been a drop in deaths due to cell phone distraction by almost 50 percent since the laws were passed.

Car companies are also concerned about the use of in-dash applications. Many have already established limits on use while the car is in motion. But car companies will not stop trying to come out with the best and most comprehensive in dash system without government involvement.

The Federal Government has decided that now is the time to act. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently begun looking into the feasibility of guidelines for in-car navigation and integrated technology systems.

The NHTSA suggested that these car systems meet guidelines to minimize the distracting effect to the driver while the car is in motion. It also proposed voluntary guidelines that would disable functions such as texting, web browsing and dialing when driving.

Source: Fox News, “As car tech advances, can distracted drivers keep up?” John Quain, Mar. 13, 2012