Toward the end of March, a white Dodge pickup truck collided with a bus full of members of First Baptist New Braunfels church on U.S. 83 in Uvalde County. Thirteen people were killed. While the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, it has been reported that the truck driver admitted to texting while driving. There are also eight 911 calls from other motorists who reported the truck driving erratically prior to the crash. One caller described the truck as swerving into other lanes, including lanes of oncoming traffic, for approximately 20 minutes before the deadly crash occurred. If it is true that the driver was texting at the time of the crash, then this is a tragic reminder of the dangers of distracted driving.
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
As April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it is appropriate to look at the dangers of paying attention to other things while behind the wheel instead of only driving. The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) reported there are more than 100,000 traffic accidents because of distracted driving every year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1,161 people are injured and eight killed in distracted driving crashes every day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,477 lives were lost in 2015 due to distracted driving.
Distracted Driving is a Serious Problem
Many drivers think they are safe behind the wheel, yet too many admit to dangerous behaviors. According to a Texas A&M Transportation Institute study reported by the DOT, 38 percent of Texas drivers in 2015 admitted to talking on their mobile phones while driving at some point. About 21 percent said they read or send text messages or emails while driving, too. The NHTSA found about 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving during the day and in 2015, about 3.8 percent of drivers used handheld cell phones, .6 percent of drivers used visible headsets while driving, and 2.2 percent of drivers visibly manipulated – or used – handheld devices while driving.
Liability after a Distracted Driving Crash
Clearly, paying attention to a cell phone, another passenger, or food is one of the fastest ways to cause accidents that could seriously injure or kill other people. It also has drastic consequences for the distracted drivers, who will face criminal charges and civil lawsuits based on their actions.
Distracted drivers can face serious criminal charges that lead to fines and years in prison. They may be charged with vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. Manslaughter is usually a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Criminally negligent homicide is usually a state jail felony, punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a $10,000.
Victims who are injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver have the right to bring a personal injury claim against that driver who will then be held responsible for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, disability, disfigurement, physical pain, and mental anguish. If individuals were killed in the crash, their family members could file wrongful death claims against the distracted driving.
Were You a Victim of Distracted Driving?
If you were hurt in a collision caused by a distracted driver, contact the dedicated New Braunfels personal injury lawyers of The Bettersworth Law Firm. We will help you assert your rights and recover compensation for your injuries.