Hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur throughout North Carolina each year. Regrettably, many of these collisions are the consequence of easily preventable behaviors like distracted driving. Although North Carolina was one of the first states to adopt laws prohibiting certain driving distractions, nearly 50,000 distracted driving accidents still occur statewide each year.
If you have been injured in a crash involving a distracted driver, you shouldn’t be on the hook for the financial consequences of their actions. The distracted driving accident lawyers of Kreger Brodish LLP can help you seek fair compensation and accountability for your injuries and other losses. Contact our Durham office today to learn more about your options in a free case review.
Overview of North Carolina’s Distracted Driving Laws
North Carolina’s distracted driving laws currently apply only to driving while using cell phones and other electronic devices. It is illegal for North Carolina motorists to operate their vehicles on public roads while:
- Using a mobile phone to text or manually enter multiple characters to communicate with someone
- Using a mobile phone to read any text messages or emails that have been sent to or stored on the device, except for caller ID information
Certain exceptions apply to these prohibitions. Drivers can communicate using mobile phones when:
- Their vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped when they read or send the text
- They are using the device to complete official duties, such as police work
- They are using a GPS or other device for directions
- They are using voice technology that allows for hands-free communication
Distracted driving laws in North Carolina are “primary enforcement” laws. This means police officers can pull over drivers just because they are texting and driving. North Carolina police officers can issue citations to texting drivers even if they obey all other traffic laws.
The standard penalty for violating North Carolina’s ban on texting while driving is a $100 fine plus court costs. Penalties do not include license demerit points or insurance surcharges.
North Carolina law also prohibits drivers under 18 from using a mobile phone or other devices while driving, even when using the device in a hands-free manner. The only exceptions include driving while using a mobile device to communicate with the authorities during an emergency or with the driver’s parent, legal guardian, or spouse. Teens convicted of violating this law must pay $25 in fines.
Distracted Driving Statistics in North Carolina
According to Federal Highway Association (FHWA) data, there are roughly 7.7 million licensed motorists and 8.7 million registered vehicles in North Carolina. With that many drivers on our roads, it’s no surprise that accidents are a common occurrence.
The following crash statistics from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) illustrate just how frequent and deadly accidents are in the state:
- In a recent year, there were over 275,000 traffic accidents throughout North Carolina. This was an increase of more than 11 percent from the previous year.
- That same year, nearly 115,000 people were injured in North Carolina traffic accidents — an almost 9 percent increase over the previous year.
- Nearly 2,000 people were killed in traffic accidents statewide, a 7.5 percent increase from the previous year.
These figures are alarming. But they do not tell the whole story. Many elements have contributed to the recent increase in North Carolina traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths. Still, data suggests one of the key factors is the increase in driver distraction and inattention.
The following statistics show just how many accidents are caused by distracted driving in North Carolina:
- In a recent year, nearly 50,000 distracted driving accidents occurred statewide — representing 18 percent of all wrecks in North Carolina that year.
- Over 20,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents that year, accounting for 18 percent of North Carolina crash injury victims.
- Distracted driving is a serious issue among teen drivers, who were involved in almost 10,000 distracted driving crashes throughout North Carolina that year. These accidents resulted in nearly 2,000 injuries and 5 fatalities.
- Driving behaviors often associated with distracted driving, such as unsafe lane departures, contributed to more than 64,000 North Carolina traffic accidents in one year.
- The NCDOT pointed out that driver distraction is a self-reported phenomenon, which means data likely underrepresents the extent of the issue.
Common Types of Distracted Driving
Driving safely requires concentration, coordination, and swift reflexes. Drivers are especially likely to cause devastating traffic collisions when they engage in the following types of distracting behaviors behind the wheel:
- Texting or talking on mobile devices
- Checking email or selecting podcasts
- Scrolling through social media or watching videos
- Adjusting music knobs or climate controls
- Putting new driving destinations in a GPS
- Opening and consuming food or beverages
- Chatting with other vehicle occupants
- Taking care of pets or children in rear seats
- Turning or bending to retrieve lost items
- Examining reflections in vanity mirrors
- Combing hair, applying makeup, or shaving
- Removing or changing clothing items
- Staring at billboards and external distractions
- Daydreaming or getting lost in thought
What to Do After a Distracted Driving Accident in Durham
If you were injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver, you could file a claim against the distracted driver to demand compensation for your losses. However, there are several key steps you should take before you are ready to file a claim, including:
- Seeking prompt medical care to have your injuries diagnosed, treated, and documented as part of your official medical records
- Following your doctor’s care plan to help you heal and demonstrate that you are taking your health seriously
- Gathering evidence from the crash, including photos of the scene, contact and insurance details from the other driver, and statements from eyewitnesses
- Hanging on to medical bills, bank statements, proof of income, repair estimates, and any other documentation of your crash-related expenses
- Keeping a journal to record your pain levels and physical limitations you experience in your daily life as a result of your injuries
- Watching what you say to others or share online while your claim is pending
- Contacting a knowledgeable distracted driving accident lawyer in Durham
How to Prove the Other Driver Was Distracted
The legal team of Kreger Brodish LLP is prepared to help you file a claim to recover the compensation you are owed after a distracted driving car accident. It may seem obvious that the other driver was dangerously distracted when they hit you. However, you will still need to present convincing evidence to support any claims you file for compensation.
Our attorneys can identify and preserve supporting evidence for your distracted driving injury claim, such as:
- Official crash reports from police officers who were at the scene
- Photos of the crash scene, vehicle damage, and visible injuries
- Video footage of the collision from dash cams or traffic cameras
- Statements from passengers and witnesses who saw the crash
- Testimony from experts, such as crash reconstruction specialists
- The distracted driver’s GPS or cell phone communication records
What Is the Time Limit to File a Distracted Driving Accident Lawsuit in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina law, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within three years of the crash date. If you try to file a lawsuit after the deadline, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case. You will then miss your opportunity to seek compensation in civil court.
This deadline is important even if you don’t plan on filing a lawsuit. When you try to file an insurance claim, you will have less leverage during settlement talks if you can no longer threaten to sue. The dedicated injury lawyers at Kreger Brodish LLP can identify critical legal deadlines and handle every aspect of your claim efficiently.
Talk to Our Experienced Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers in Durham, NC Today
Distracted driving can cause catastrophic crashes and severe injuries. You shouldn’t be left to deal with the consequences yourself. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, the legal team at Kreger Brodish LLP is prepared to help you demand compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our distracted driving accident attorneys in Durham.