Think back a few years to your driver’s ed days. Maybe you remember “hands at 10:00 and 2:00” (or 9:00 and 3:00, depending on when you learned to drive) and “eyes on the road.” Maybe you remember watching a video about the dangers of distracted driving too. The lessons you learned in that classroom are just as important today as they were then.
Between 2017 and 2021 in Oklahoma, 250 deaths and nearly 8,000 injuries occurred due to distracted driving. Distracted driving deaths in Oklahoma occur across all age groups and are not limited to young or new drivers. Distracted driving is entirely preventable, unlike wrecks due to severe weather or other causes.
The best thing you can do today is to avoid distracted driving. If you have been the victim of an accident caused by distracted driving and you are experiencing long-lasting effects, contact our team of experienced auto accident lawyers.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts your attention from the task of safe driving.” Driving safely requires your eyes on the road, and your full attention is given to the task at hand: operating your vehicle. Driving distracted places yourself, your passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and those nearby in danger.
If you drive 55 miles per hour and take your eyes off the road for just five seconds, your vehicle will have moved the length of a football field. Your car will have moved that distance while your eyes are effectively shut.
Common Driving Distractions
Take a minute and consider what may distract you while you drive. The first thing that may come to mind is texting while driving. Texting is one of the most common distractions, but so many more distractions cause car accidents in Oklahoma daily.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have categorized distracted driving into three types:
- Manual Distractions – things that take your hands off the wheel
- Visual Distractions – things that take your eyes off the road
- Cognitive Distractions – things that take your mind off driving
When considering the CDC’s categories, many distractions likely come to mind. Here are a few common driving distractions:
- Talking on the phone
- Sending a text message
- Reading a text message
- Reading an email or other information
- Scrolling social media
- Looking for items in your console or glove compartment
- Talking to passengers
- Passing things to children in the backseat
- Fiddling with the radio or navigation system
- Crying or expressing emotion
- Reading billboards or other signs
- Adjusting mirrors
Consequences of Distracted Driving in Oklahoma
Distracted driving can cause serious catastrophic injuries, damages, and sometimes death. Because distractions take your attention away from operating your car, the results of an accident can be severe.
Distracted driving not only puts yourself and others at risk, it is also illegal. While there are some stipulations, a citation can be given for distracted driving. So, if anyone asks, yes, you can get a ticket for driving distracted!
In Oklahoma, a police officer or highway patrol officer is not legally allowed to pull you over simply for distraction, however. For example, if you are driving and eating messy food at the same time, they cannot issue a citation. But, if a distraction causes an accident or causes erratic driving they would have grounds for a traffic stop and citation under the distracted driving law. Additional charges, such as negligent homicide, may be pursued if an accident results in death.
In addition to a citation, fine, and potentially criminal charges (depending on the severity and details of your distracted driving accident), civil personal injury lawsuits are common after a distracted driving accident. Our experienced car accident attorneys at Maples, Nix and Diesselhorst work with Oklahomans daily who are the victims of distracted driving auto accidents. Distracted driving, even for just a few seconds, can change the course of a family’s life.
Texting and Cell Phone Driving Laws in Oklahoma
While an officer cannot pull you over for simply being distracted while driving in Oklahoma, there are specific laws regarding cell phone use and driving which can result in a traffic stop.
In Oklahoma, it is prohibited to text while driving. Since 2015, Oklahoma law has stated that texting while driving is punishable by a $100 fine. This law includes reading or sending texts, text-based emails, videos and photos, and instant messages while driving a vehicle. An officer can pull you over and issue a citation for texting and driving.
The texting-and-driving law in Oklahoma does have a few exceptions. If you are using voice-to-text or the voice-operated system built into your vehicle, these types of texting are exempt.
It is important to note that while many states prohibit calling or talking on the phone while driving, Oklahoma does not ban using a handheld device. However, handheld cell phone use is forbidden when operating a commercial vehicle, school bus, or public transportation.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
There are a few simple ways to prevent distracted driving. The federal government, governors nationwide, and many other groups provide detailed guidelines and information about preventing distracted driving.
To prevent distracted driving, you can commit to doing a few things:
- Commit to focusing on the road and do not attempt to multitask
- Put your phone on do-not-disturb while driving or place it far out of reach (like in the trunk)
- Configure your navigation system and route before getting on the road
- If you are traveling with others, designate someone to handle texting and navigation changes for you
- If something just can’t wait, pull over somewhere safe to handle it
- If you are the parent, guardian, or caretaker for children or youth, set a good example for them. They will learn by watching you
- Speak up! If you are the passenger of a car with a distracted driver, offer to help them with whatever is distracting them or offer to take over driving responsibilities until they can safely drive
- Remind young drivers that distractions only take a second to cause an accident
Driving safely and avoiding distractions is the best way to prevent accidents. As experienced auto accident attorneys, we have seen all kinds of accidents and damages due to distracted driving. Take steps to avoid driving distracted. The benefits of driving safely are worth the momentary inconveniences.
Recovering Compensation Due to a Distracted Driving Incident
If you have been the victim of an accident caused by distracted driving, you should have an attorney to support and counsel you as you seek justice and compensation. Our compassion and proven experience will set our team apart throughout the duration of your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.