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Comprehending distracted driving, consequences and liability

Let's say a driver is traveling on a Connecticut roadway and this driver witnesses another driver applying mascara in a moving vehicle during rush hour. Is this distracted driving? Or is a driver whose attention is off the road and whose gaze is fixated on a handheld smartphone distracted driving? Many Connecticut residents may be automatically inclined to say that the latter is definitely a distracted driver while the former may or may not fall into that category.

But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving covers much more than simply texting and driving. In fact, distracted driving is defined as any activities which take away a driver's attention from the chief task of driving a vehicle. In addition to the obvious activity of texting and driving, talking on the phone and driving and examples of other distracted driving activities include, but are not limited to, combing, enjoying food or a drink, taking one's hands away from the steering wheel to adjust the radio or change a CD.

Distracted drivers not only endanger themselves but also pose a danger to other drivers on the roadways. The advent of cell and smartphones has certainly exacerbated this issue. In fact, according to the NHTSA, a little over 385,000 people in 2011 alone were injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver. Furthermore, a little over 3,300 people died in a car accident where a distracted driver was involved.

In an effort to combat the issue of distracted driving, many states have enacted laws to ban texting and driving, for instance. Connecticut enacted laws to ban texting and handheld device use for all drivers. It also banned the use of cell phones by bus drivers and novice drivers.

Despite these legally enforceable bans, car accidents involving a distracted driver still happen. In those cases, an injured party may be able to hold the negligent driver responsible for their actions. It is possible for an injured party to recover damages for their injury. A personal injury attorney may be able to offer legal options and advice.

Source: Distraction.gov, "What is Distracted Driving?," accessed on August 5, 2014

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