Losing a loved one or friend in an accident can be devastating. It can be a sudden and heart-wrenching tragedy over the holiday season, especially if your loss is due to the negligence of another Lexington, SC driver who was texting or falling asleep at the wheel. In these cases, a South Carolina lawyer can help you file a car accident lawsuit against the party that was distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Causes Lexington, SC Car Accidents
In 2015, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a distracted driver texting was 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident and more than 3,000 people were killed, with 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes.
During the day, approximately 660,000 drivers use cell phones while driving. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of an accident or fatal crash. The National Occupant Protection Use Survey reported handheld cell phone use continued to be the highest among 16 to 24-year-old drivers.
Distracted driving is more prevalent during the holidays because of increased travel and busy schedules. Holiday activities increase stress levels and fatigue, particularly in drivers. Reading maps, personal grooming, adjusting the radio or GPS program, eating or drinking, smoking, watching a video, talking to passengers in your car, or using a cell phone distracts from the task of driving.
How Does Distracted Driving Lead to Lexington Car Accidents?
There are three types of distractions (visual, manual, and cognitive) and our brains are unable to effectively perform two complex tasks at the same time.
Driving distractions cause motorists to miss critical events, objects, and cues that could lead to a potential crash. These distractions could include:
- Visual – Taking your eyes off the road – Roadside billboards, checking yourself in the mirror, gawking at crash sites, reading maps or newspapers, reaching for a fallen object, attending to a passenger or pet, and texting while driving
- Manual – Removing your hands from the wheel – Eating, drinking, using a handheld cell phone, changing a CD or a radio station
- Cognitive – Mind off of driving – Talking with passengers, using a hands-free cell phone, daydreaming, or using voice-activated features
What Are the Texting and Driving Laws in South Carolina?
The S.C. state law concerning texting and driving took effect in December of 2014. South Carolina is one of the last states to outlaw texting while driving. They also have one of the nation’s lightest penalties. The law requires police to observe a driver texting while the car is moving. The penalty involves no points against a license, no notification to the driver’s insurance company, and only a $25 fine.
South Carolina laws state it is illegal to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while driving. A text-based communication can be a text message, an SMS message, an instant message, or an email.
It does not have to be a phone for the text or email to be illegal. If you are using a laptop, PDA, or another type of wireless communication while driving or even riding as a passenger, you are probably breaking the law.
Since the state law has been in place, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety has collected statistics on more than 250 car accidents where texting played a role.
Text-related accidents tend to be under-reported because drivers involved in a collision or car accident lawsuit are unlikely to admit they were texting, and police may classify the incident as being related to driver inattention caused by something other than texting.
However, if someone causes a wreck that hurts or kills someone, and it is discovered they were texting at the time of the accident, law enforcement could charge them with vehicular homicide or some other serious crime.
A police officer may pull a driver over for violating the texting and driving laws without them having made any other violation. But, they cannot search, view, seize, or require the driver to turn over the device involved in the violation.
There are some exceptions to the South Carolina law, including:
- A driver who is parked or stopped along the side of a roadway
- Using a hands-free device
- Calling or texting for emergency assistance
- A GPS system, navigation system, or receiving traffic or road conditions
Is Talking on the Phone While Driving Illegal in South Carolina?
There are currently no statewide bans on the use of handheld or hands-free cell phones when making phone calls. Drivers are also allowed to use the GPS feature on the handheld device for navigation purposes.
Schedule a Consultation with a Lexington, SC Lawyer to Discuss Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
By making sure you are aware of the risks of holiday distracted driving, you can ensure your trip is as safe as possible. But, if you or a loved one becomes a victim of a car crash caused by distracted driving, then it is time to seek legal advice from the car accident attorneys at The Jeffcoat Firm in Lexington, South Carolina.