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Distracted driving covers many activities

Karns & Kerrison

Rhode Island residents know that driving while distracted can be dangerous, but they may be surprised to learn just what constitutes distracted driving. Using a cellphone to talk or text is not the only cause of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is anything that takes the driver's attention off the road. Combing one's hair or applying makeup falls into this category, as does eating, talking to passengers or changing stations on the radio although cellphones are typically the worst distraction.

While the number of fatalities due to distracted driving decreased slightly in 2012, the number of injuries increased by 9 percent. Young adults are the worst offenders when it comes to distracted driving, one federal agency notes. Twenty-seven percent of distracted driving car crashes were caused by drivers in their 20s while 10 percent of drivers less than 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident. An accident can happen in just a few seconds; a driver doing 55 mph can cover 300 feet in that time.

Rhode Island residents who are injured by a distracted driver may be entitled to compensation for present and future medical expenses and lost wages if they cannot work. Documentation is important to their claim. If they are able, victims should begin this process at the accident scene by taking photos of all vehicles involved and any visible injuries. They need to keep all medical appointments. They may also want to keep a diary of how the auto crash impacted their life.

Source: Distraction.gov, "What is distracted driving?", November 06, 2014

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