I was stopped at a stoplight in Virginia Beach on my way to work this morning when I saw a car rapidly approaching in my rear-view mirror. Anticipating that the car was not going to stop, I pulled my car into the other lane while the approaching car skidded to a stop in what was the spot where I was sitting. I looked over in amazement to see the driver still texting on his cell phone. If I had not been looking in the rear-view mirror, I’d be writing this from a hospital bed.
A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study released recently showed truck drivers are 23 times more likely to be in a crash if they are texting, and several fatal accidents have been blamed on drivers or train operators who were distracted by texting. Many people say that the only thing that would make them stop texting is if they actually had an accident or ran off the road while texting. A far wiser choice would be to pull over if you need to send a text or wait until you reach your destination. Many states, including Virginia, have passed laws making it a traffic offense to text while driving. Effective July 1, 2009, Virginia law prohibits vehicle operation while using any handheld device to read, type or send a text message. While some may view this as an unnecessary intrusion of their individual liberties, lives will be saved due to the passage of this law.
If you are involved in an automobile accident while using your cell phone, you should be prepared for the driver you hit to file a lawsuit claiming that you failed to pay proper attention to your driving, thus negligently causing the accident. Juries are often angered by this type of conduct and will render large monetary awards to the injured driver. Juries have even awarded punitive damages, finding that texting while driving is intentional conduct which shows a conscious disregard for the rights of other people on the road. The consequences of texting while driving may be deadly. If you have been injured in an automobile accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, call the lawyers at Pierce & Thornton for a free consultation.