Someone in Ontario is hurt in a motor vehicle accident from distracted driving every 30 minutes, according to 2013 data from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Let the immensity of that number sink in: in 24 hours, that is about 48 distracted-driving crashes somewhere in the province — a staggering number.
The Ministry says that distracted-driving accidents have doubled since 2000 and that driving while using a phone increases the chance of crashing by four times.
What kinds of distractions take drivers’ full attention away from the responsibility of safely operating a moving two-ton-plus motor vehicle? Really, anything you do that takes your eyes off the road or compromises your concentration is a distraction that makes driving less safe.
Examples of typical distractions include putting on makeup, disciplining or caring for a child, interacting with pets, eating, drinking, trying to reach something on the floor or in the back seat, talking to passengers, changing the channel, reading, operating a GPS and more. But most people agree that it is the cell phone that has become our biggest distraction. When a person uses a mobile phone to talk, surf the Internet, play music and especially to text, attention to the road and surrounding conditions must decrease.
Using (even holding) a phone or electronic entertainment device like an e-reader while driving is illegal in Ontario and carries penalties if caught by authorities. Driving while distracted by things other than a phone is also unlawful and could lead to stiffer charges like careless or dangerous driving.
When a driver operates a vehicle during distracting behavior, it is not only illegal, but also could lead to civil liability in a personal injury lawsuit if another person is hurt or killed.
A driver has the legal duty to drive in a reasonable manner and if he or she drives negligently, recklessly or aggressively, he or she could be responsible for damages for injury or death a resulting accident could cause. The victim could sue the driver for money damages for medical costs, lost wages, property damage, rehabilitation, medical equipment, home adaptations, pain and suffering, housekeeping services and other consequences.
Any victim of a car accident should talk to a lawyer as quickly as possible. The lawyer can conduct an investigation of the incident, communicate with insurers and authorities, negotiate a settlement if appropriate and if necessary file a suit on behalf of the client.