Distracted driving claims life of young mother in Johnson County

Distracted driving is a term that is heard more and more frequently as drivers pay less attention to the road and more attention to cell phones, GPS devices, handheld devices and more. While many people may think of motorists talking on their cell phones or texting when they hear about distracted driving, the phenomenon encompasses more than the use of electronic handheld devices. There are many other activities that motorists engage in which can be characterized as distracted driving.

Distraction.gov, the government's official website for information concerning distracted driving, defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. While there are many car accidents resulting from motorists who text while driving, people need to be aware of the many other distractions that can lead to injuries and death on the streets and roads of Kansas and Missouri.

Recent accident in Johnson County

Another life has been lost in Kansas to an accident attributed to distracted driving. The victim was a young woman from Gardner, Kansas, a 25-year-old mother of one. According to an account of the incident on KMBC.com, the woman was driving home at 8:45 a.m. along Interstate 35 south of Olathe when she lost control of her SUV. The vehicle went off the road and rolled over a few times. Because the motorist was not wearing a safety belt, she was ejected. A Kansas Highway Patrol spokesperson said that the driver was "likely distracted." Investigators noted that the woman had been exchanging text messages with her fiancé immediately before the crash.

Most common distractions

Although accidents caused by driver inattention due to texting or making a call on a cell phone make up a significant number of crashes on our roads, there are other ways drivers can become distracted. An article in the April issue of Insurance Journal analyzed the top 10 distractions that contribute to fatal motor vehicle accident. The compiler of the research looked at more than 65,000 fatal car crashes in America during 2011 and 2012 and found that 10 percent were the result of at least one of the drivers being distracted.

Interestingly, the number one distraction was not related to any type of device, but instead was daydreaming. Second on the list was cell phone use, followed by rubbernecking, talking to other passengers in the car and using or reaching for a device bought into the car, such as a GPS device or headphones. Rounding out the top 10 are eating or drinking, adjusting audio or climate controls, using other devices or controls integral to the vehicle (adjusting seats or mirrors), moving an object in the vehicle (such as moving a pet riding in the vehicle or swatting a bug) and smoking-related actions (lighting a cigarette or putting ashes in the ashtray).

Motorists have a duty to their passengers and other drivers to use reasonable care when driving. If a motorist breaches this duty and causes injuries to others, he or she may be held liable for damages. Driving while distracted is recognized by courts as a breach of the duty to use care when operating a motor vehicle.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to recover damages from the driver who caused the crash. Items recoverable may include medical bills, lost wages and property damage. If you have questions about an accident in which you were hurt, contact an attorney to learn more about your options.

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