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Texting while DrivingAs many drivers know, texting and driving is illegal in North Carolina. Distracted driving causes thousands of injuries and deaths each year, and this law is meant to curb those incidents.

You may have heard that you can only be pulled over for texting and driving if you are seen by an officer to be doing such. For many alert drivers, simply keeping an eye on the road for patrol cars is enough to keep them from getting busted. No longer.

Troopers in North Carolina are stepping up their game. Plain-clothesed police officers have taken to riding the streets in North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to spot testing drivers.

Here’s what happens: A police officer in an NCDOT vehicle spots a driver texting. The officer radios to another officer in an unmarked vehicle further down the road. That officer, in turn, pulls over the offending driver and issues a ticket.

“We’re thinking outside the box and stepping up our game on the highways,” says 1st Sgt. Brett Snotherly.

Drivers may see this as a violation of their freedom of sorts or even entrapment, but this creative policing is simply meant to help save lives.

Texting and Driving Stats

According to Texting and Driving Safety there are statistics that every driver should be aware of.

  • In 2011, 1.3 million crashes in the United States were attributed to cell phones
  • At a minimum, your attention is taken away from the road for 5 seconds to read or respond to a text
  • At 55 mph, taking your eyes away from the road for 5 seconds means that you covered the distance of a football field blindly
  • You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a vehicle collision when texting
  • 18-20 year old respondents admitted to texting or talking at the time of an accident at a rate of 13%

These are certainly not all of the statistics, but they are enough to be eye opening. Currently, 39 states plus D.C., including North Carolina, prohibit texting and driving. Additionally, 32 states plus D.C. prohibit new drivers from any cell phone use while driving.

Distracted driving is responsible for deaths each year. Even a single death is one too many. While some accidents are unavoidable, any that is caused by cell phone use, including texting, is 100% senseless.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, contact the experienced vehicle collision attorneys at Auger & Auger as soon as possible. Each member of our knowledgeable team is here to ensure that you get the protection and compensation you deserve.

You have rights that you may be unaware of. First consultations are always free when you call our office. There is no reason to delay—call us now and let us review your case!

Since 2009, texting while driving has been illegal in North Carolina, but that did not stop one local woman. On February 8, a Belmont woman was charged with second-degree murder for the death of an elderly Belmont woman, and has been charged with texting while driving and driving while intoxicated, according to WCNC Charlotte. The driver was operating her 1999 GMC Jimmy SUV when she hit a 75 year-old pedestrian with. According to witnesses, the woman was dragged down the road by the truck until the vehicle finally came to a stop after hitting a row of trashcans. The elderly woman lay on the street and yelled for help. Her husband rushed to her side, but she later died at an area hospital.

The driver is also charged with reckless driving, driving while impaired, texting while driving, and driving without a valid license along with second-degree murder. Her license had been suspended for 12 months following a DWI conviction in October 2013. She was also charged in January 2011 for a Level 4 DWI. Her criminal record lists other previous drug and alcohol charges. She is being held in the Gaston County jail without bond.

Neighbors are angry, worried and upset. Not only was the driver intoxicated and texting while driving, she also admitted to consuming pain killers. Members of the community are concerned that our streets are becoming more dangerous because drivers are becoming more careless. Driving under the influence of marijuana or pain killers is just as serious as driving under the influence of alcohol. Texting while driving can be just as deadly. According to one statistic, at any given time during the day across the US, about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. This statistic has held steady since 2012 as consumers purchase more smart phones, iPads, iPods, and other devices.

Distracted driving falls into three different categories: manual (taking your hands of the wheel), visual (taking your eyes off the road), and cognitive (taking your mind off the road). Cell phone use involves all three categories, making it a more dangerous than eating while driving or talking to other passengers in the vehicle while driving. And what is even more disconcerting is that cell phone use was reported in 18 percent of distracted driving fatalities in America.

North Carolina bans all cell phone use, both handheld and hands-free, for drivers under the age o 18 and prohibits texting while driving for all North Carolina drivers. According to a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, you are three times more likely to be involved in a crash when you engage in visual and manual tasks such as reaching for a cell phone, dialing or texting. At Auger & Auger, we urge you to take the science seriously. Young drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are most susceptible to texting while driving and, subsequently, being involved in an accident due to texting while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 44% of respondents between the ages of 18-20 admit to continuously texting while driving, and 49% of young adults between the ages of 21-24 admit to sending text messages and emails while driving. The research also shows those teens with parents who text and drive are more likely to mimic their parents’ reckless behavior. Educate your teens about the dangers of texting and driving, and heed to the warnings yourself. If you were injured in a car accident because another driver was texting and driving, call the car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger to find out your rights and options under North Carolina law.

Recently, an 18 year old Asheville teen dropped his cell phone onto the floor board of his car. As he leaned down to retrieve it, he lost control of his car and plunged his vehicle 150 feet down a sharp slope. He and his 19 year old friend were ejected from the car, causing serious injury to the friend in the passenger’s seat.

Teenage drivers can cause a great amount of stress to their family and the family members of the passengers they have in their cars. Teens in North Carolina are twice as likely to have a car accident during the first month of driving compared to adult drivers. Three teenage behaviors can lead to crashes: Failing to yield the right of way, failing to reduce speed, and not paying attention. Inattention is often caused by cell phone use, which includes texting, emailing, or performing internet searches while driving.

Car Crashed into TreeAll drivers in North Carolina, regardless of age, are banned from texting while driving. Drivers under 18 are banned from any and all cell phone use while behind the wheel, unless they are dialing 911 for an emergency. Cell use can cause drivers to remove their eyes from the road, their hands from the wheel, and a level of mental distraction that results in slower reaction times and following distances.

In addition to a ban on cell phone use while driving while under the age of 18, North Carolina also implements a graduated license system. This system restricts unsupervised driving between the hours of 9PM and 5AM. A teen may drive unsupervised during the day for limited purposes like going to and from work or in response to a medical emergency. If driving with a supervisor, the teen driver must be overseen by a driver that has been licensed for at least five years.

For those who have been injured as a result of a teen car accident, several options are available for recovery under North Carolina law. A teen may be driving a friend’s, parent’s, or employer’s car, as teens are generally unable to purchase their own vehicle. If the teenager drove negligently and failed in their duty to drive safely, damages may be available under the teenager’s auto insurance policy, the teenager’s parents’ policy, or the employer’s policy. If the teen was driving with the permission of his or her parents and using the car for the good of the family, larger amounts of compensation and coverage under a family policy may be available. If the teen was driving a vehicle while working, then the coverage under the business policy may be available for recovery.

The North Carolina teen car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger understand the financial hardships clients face after an auto collision. Lost wages and mounting bills can make it difficult to concentrate on recovery. We have successfully litigated and negotiated personal injury claims across the state of North Carolina. If you have been injured in a car accident with a teenager and would like to work with experienced attorneys who understand the intricacies of insurance policies, then call our office today for a free, confidential consultation at (704) 364-3361 or (800) 559-5741.

More Blog Posts:

North Carolina Texters May Need to Refrain From Texting Friends On the Road, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, May 20, 2013

Are You Prepared For The $5,000 Prom Ride, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, May 2, 2013

A recent appellate argument may lead the way for new civil liabilities across the nation for people who text drivers they know to be on the road at the time they send their text. Two injured motorcyclists attempted to sue the girlfriend of a driver who sent him the distracting text at the time of the accident. Both motorcyclists lost a leg, and sued the driver and the driver’s girlfriend for damages. The trial court threw out the claim against the texting girlfriend, but the injured motorcyclists appealed. The panel of judges appeared to take an interest in oral arguments that hold the texter accountable for sending texts that can distract the driver.

An injured party in North Carolina can pursue civil action against any negligent party to recover damages. To succeed in a claim of negligence, the injured party must “allege the existence of a legal duty or standard of care owed to the plaintiff by the defendant, breach of that duty, and a casual relationship between the breach of duty and certain actual injury or loss sustained by the plaintiff.” Sterner v. Penn, 159 N.C. App. 626, 629, 583 S.E.2d 670, 673 (2003). The aforementioned appellate argument may create the framework for a new civil duty to be applied to those who send text messages to colleagues, family, and friends. This means that texters would also be responsible to people injured by distracted drivers on the road.

If North Carolina chooses to hold those who text accountable, the injured party may have to show the following to succeed in an action against the texter: that the texter knew the driver was driving at the time they sent the text, that the texter knew the driver checks text messages while driving, and that this distraction resulted in the injury-causing accident. Proof may be necessary to show the relationship between the texter and the driver if there was not an explicit discussion documenting that the texter knew the driver was about to be on the road.

PlaygroundCurrently there is no such duty imposed upon texters in North Carolina, but the outcome of the appellate decision in New Jersey may open the door for those injured in North Carolina to pursue claims against those who cause the driver to be distracted. At the least, North Carolina drivers still have a duty to not drive while impaired or distracted. Drivers can be held accountable for compensatory damages if they injure others while driving negligently.

The North Carolina car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger know the pain and suffering of a car accident victim, and what compensation is needed to be made whole again. Arlene and Herbert Auger have several years of experience aggressively litigating car accident claims, and know how to navigate through insurance settlement negotiations and litigation. If you have been injured in a car accident by a distracted driver and want to pursue an action against all responsible parties, call the office today for a free, confidential consultation at (888) 487-0835.

More Blog Posts:

Are You Prepared For The $5,000 Prom Ride, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, May 2, 2013

North Carolina Drivers Should Avoid Voice-to-Text Messaging While Driving, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, April 26, 2013

A recent study shows that a driver’s response time and eye contact with the road is significantly decreased if they are texting while driving, regardless of whether the texting is done manually or by voice. The greatest concern derived from the study is that drivers perceived the voice-to-text method as safer, even though it wasn’t. The study also revealed it actually took twice as long to use voice-to-text as opposed to manual texting because of the time required to correct errors.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and North Carolina’s Department of Transportation highlighted this point by producing two public service announcements videos that illustrate a driver’s diminished mental capacity when using a cell phone while driving. North Carolina currently bans all drivers from texting while operating a motor vehicle on the road. Drivers under 18 and school bus drivers are banned from all cell phone use while driving. The lone exception is for dialing 911 for an emergency. The North Carolina Legislature has previously considered banning cell phone use, including hands free devices, but has yet to pass a more comprehensive law that would outlaw general cell phone use by all drivers on the road.

Old Cell PhoneLast year in North Carolina, 904 accidents were reported where an electronic device was a contributing factor. The World Health Organization has summarized the effects of mobile phone use, stating that cell phone use can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the steering wheel, and their minds off the roads and surrounding locations. Not thinking about the road while driving is called a cognitive distraction that leads to slower reaction times, shorter following distances, and inability to stay in the correct lane. Another study from the University of Utah compared drunk driving to driving while using a cell phone and concluded that while the impaired driving manifested itself in different ways, the effects of cell phone use impairment were just as profound as those while driving under the influence.

Car accident injuries are life changing, regardless of whether they occurred because of a drunk driver or a driver distracted by his or her cell phone. Insurance claims must be made and damages proven in order to receive the compensation that is needed. To succeed in a civil action, the injured party must show that his or her injuries were caused by the other’s negligent driving, provide documentation of the medical bills incurred, and produce evidence of any need for future medical care.

The experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger have handled numerous personal injury claims and will aggressively fight for the compensation an injured person needs to cover the lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses incurred because of a car accident. They know your distracted driver case is unique and that the other party needs to be held accountable for their negligent driving. If you have been injured in a car accident and would like to speak to one of our attorneys, call (888) 487-0835 today.

MORE BLOG POSTS:

Impaired Driver Hits North Carolina Couple in Head-on Collision in Raleigh, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 19, 2013

Freedom, Safety, and Liability: Legislator Joins the Cause to Repeal North Carolina’s Motorcycle Helmet Requirement, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 13, 2013

Stop sign don't walk

It is well established that talking on the phone or texting is a major distraction to drivers that is dangerous and likely to lead to accidents. As a matter of fact, there have been studies saying that a texting driver is more likely to be involved in an accident than a drunk driver.

Now a study conducted at the University of Washington has revealed that 30% of all pedestrians crossing a street are distracted by some mobile communication device. It also concluded that pedestrians who are texting were four times less likely to look before entering the street, follow pedestrian traffic control devices or cross streets at designated cross walks.

After monitoring some of Seattle’s busiest intersections, researchers found that pedestrians who are texting took two seconds or more longer to cross the road than people who are not texting. Other past studies have documented pedestrians taking more risks crossing streets when talking on their cellphones or while wearing headsets.

Dr. Beth Ebel, who led the team conducting the research, said they observed over 1,100 people crossing Seattle’s busiest streets at random times. The result was astounding. Nearly 30% of all pedestrians were distracted in some way while crossing busy streets. Some of the primary distractions included listening to music (11.2%), texting (7.3%) and talking on a cellphone (6.2%).

Interestingly, those pedestrians using I-phones or some other smart phones walked even more slowly than others using other mobile devices and were more likely to walk into the street without looking or cross against the pedestrian traffic control device.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some 60,000 pedestrians are injured and 4,000 killed each year.

Dr. Ebel says that this is much like Pavlov’s experiment in behavioral psychology in which he would ring a bell and give them food. After a while, the dogs would begin to salivate after the ringing of the bell, even when there was no food. She compared getting a text message to the ringing of the bell, knowing that we are about to receive the treat of a message.

Pedestrians in many states could possibly recover damages from the driver of a vehicle that struck them, even if the pedestrian was partially negligent for not paying attention. Those jurisdictions have some form of comparative negligence. However, since North Carolina is a pure contributory negligence state, pedestrians cannot recover if their negligence in any way contributed to the cause of the accident and resulting injuries.

Nevertheless, drivers need to be on the lookout for distracted pedestrians who are not paying attention when crossing busy streets in front of them.

If you or a family member have suffered any type of personal injury or lost loved ones in a fatal accident, it is best that you seek advice from a North Carolina attorney experienced in handling personal injury cases.

Auger & Auger has devoted 100% of its practice to nothing but serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience and are highly regarded in the legal community. Let us help you.

Contact us through our website or call directly at (704) 364-3361 to set up an appointment for your no obligation consultation.

You will never owe us anything unless we make a recovery for you.

Other Resources:

Texting pedestrians asking for trouble, study finds
, NBC News, Article by Maggie Fox, December 12, 2012

Related Blog Posts:

Pedestrians and Cyclists Are No Match For Any Kind of Vehicle
, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, August 10, 2012

Dangerous School Crossings in North Carolina Result in 3 Major Accidents, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 26, 2012

Driving while on TelephoneUse of electronic devices by North Carolina teenagers has been proven to be the cause of most teen car accidents. North Carolina teens were recently the focus of a study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Results were released in an article entitled Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers. The study concluded that the use of electronic devices was overwhelmingly the number one distraction for teen drivers.

North Carolina teens were the focus of the sample group. Video recordings of 52 North Carolina teenagers between the age of 16 and 18 were observed. Sixty-three percent were 16 years old, seventeen percent were 17 years old and 19 percent were 18 years old. The video recordings captured teens drinking, eating, reading, turning around to talk to people inside the car or outside. The top factor serving as a distraction for teenagers was the use of electronic devices.

The study also concluded that females were twice as likely to use their phones while driving and males were twice as likely to turn around in their seat to talk to passengers or someone outside the vehicle. The findings also revealed that the use of electronic devices increased proportionately with their age, as older and more experienced high school drivers were observed using them. Interestingly, traffic conditions being light, moderate or heavy had no real bearing on the teenage drivers’ inattentiveness, but poor or challenging weather conditions such as rain did result in less driver distraction.

Clearly, this study just released in March 2012 confirms that the use of electronic devices is the primary cause of teenage driver distraction and one of the reasons that auto accidents are the leading cause of teenage deaths.

There isn’t a day that goes by without seeing someone driving in the traffic lane next to you reading the paper, putting on makeup, combing their hair, shaving, eating, drinking, not watching the cars around them, talking on the phone, texting or looking at their Blackberry or iPhone. All of this plus, of all things, driving an automobile in heavy traffic and perhaps even at high speeds. Each and every one of us has at some time been distracted while driving and talking on the phone. Studies have shown that drivers talking on their cell phones or while drunk are four times more likely to cause an accident. Texting drivers are even worse. They are eight times more likely to cause an accident.

Driver inattention is not limited to teenagers. Adults are also distracted by cellphones, rushing to their next meeting and using their GPS for directions, among other things. Accidents can change lives because of the catastrophic injuries or death that are the result of just that momentary distraction. If you, your family or friends have had to endure the pain of losing a loved one or had a loved one suffer severe and maiming injuries because of the negligence of a distracted driver, please contact Auger & Auger, for a free, confidential consultation at 704-364-3361 or Toll Free at (800) 559-5741. Our experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys and staff can guide you through the process and advise you what claims or causes of action are available to you. All cases are handled on a contingency basis, which means you owe no fee unless there is a monetary recovery.

Related Blog Posts:

Newly Licensed Teens At Much Higher Risk For Car Accident In North Carolina, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, January 11, 2012
Are You Peeking?North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, July 11, 2011

Texting and DrivingWhether it is a text message, an email, or GPS, many drivers are guilty of “peeking” at their phones while driving.

What if I just read a text but don’t actually respond to it?
Most people likely know that it is illegal to “text” and drive, but may not know that the law also prohibits the reading of a text. The law makes it illegal to read any electronic mail or text message transmitted to or stored within the device while operating a motor vehicle. This makes “peeking” illegal, even though you might not actually be texting. Good thing for stops signs and red lights, at which you would be considered “lawfully stopped.”

Though not considered a moving violation for which license points can be assessed, the penalty is a $100 fine plus court costs.

Texting while driving considered more dangerous than drunk driving
Studies have found that reaction time in drivers who are texting decreased by 35%, compared with a 12% decrease in reaction time in drivers who had been drinking. Drivers who had been drinking are also more likely to be focused on driving carefully so that they don’t get caught, but texting driver will likely be concentrating more on the messaging than on the driving. The risk of crashing while texting increases by over 20 times when compared to a driver who is not texting, whereas the risk of crashing when a driver has consumed alcohol increased 7 times when compared to a driver that has not been drinking.

What is North Carolina doing about it?

Despite laws to the contrary, texting while driving remains problematic in North Carolina. For the moment, it is not illegal to talk on a cell phone, which makes enforcement difficult. Pending in the North Carolina General Assembly, however, are 3 nearly identical bills that will make it illegal to use anything but a hands-free device while driving, including the act of dialing even if the resulting conversation is hands-free.

Solution? Hang up and drive.

North Carolina Highway Patrol has found that 16 year old Taylor Clark was texting when she caused a head-on collision, killing 17 year old passenger, Seth Beaver. Clark has been charged with misdemeanor death by a motor vehicle, failing to yield, and texting while driving.

It has been illegal for drivers in North Carolina under the age of 18 to use a cell phone while driving since 2006, and for any driver to text while driving since December 1, 2009, but drivers such as Clark continue to ignore this law. In fact, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that even though North Carolina bans cell phone use by drivers under 18 years of age, cell phone use by this group actually increased since the law went into effect.

There are currently three bills pending in North Carolina, all aimed at curtailing the use of cell phones by all drivers. If passed, House Bill 31 will make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, and House Bill 44, would allow use of hands free devices only. Senate Bill 36 is nearly identical to House Bill 31. If passed, these laws will go into effect on December 1, 2011.

Our experienced car accident attorneys encourage you to talk to your teen. Reinforce the rules. Sit down with your child and watch “Faces of Distracted Driving”. Real stories, about real teens, who paid the ultimate price when someone was texting while driving.

An informal study conducted by State Farm Insurance found that nearly 1 out of 5 drivers use the internet while driving. Due to these alarming results, State Farm has expressed plans to conduct a more thorough study later this year.

The director of Auto Technology Research at State Farm, Cindy Garretson, believes these figures to be underestimated. According to Ms. Garretson, the survey respondents were in the mid 30’s age group, but the majority of smart phone users fall into a younger demographic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that from 2005 to 2009, traffic fatalities attributed to driver distraction increased from 10% to 16%, and that drivers under the age of 20 years old made up 16% of distracted driver fatalities. This was followed by the 20-29 year old population which made up 13% of all distracted driver fatalities. Although the 30-39 year old age group did not represent the highest number of distracted driver fatalities, it was the group that had the highest number of drivers that were distracted due to cell phone use.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, call the experience car accident lawyers at Auger & Auger for a free consultation.

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