More than 250 highway work zone accidents take place every day in Washington and around the country, and many of the drivers who cause them are distracted by cellphones or other electronic devices. Accident statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that distraction causes far fewer road fatalities each year than speeding or drunk driving, but road safety advocates believe that official figures are far too low because few motorists are willing to admit that they were using a cellphone when they crashed.
Distraction in construction zones
The results of a study published in 2019 by researchers from the University of Missouri suggest that distracted driving is particularly dangerous in highway work zones. After studying data gathered by the Transportation Research Board from more than 3,000 drivers between 2006 and 2015, the researchers concluded that distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to be involved in a work zone accident.
Washington stiffens its distracted driving law
Lawmakers in Washington stiffened the state’s distracted driving law in 2017. The Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act covers devices like laptops and tablets as well as cellphones, and it makes distracted driving a primary traffic offense. This means police officers in Washington can now initiate a traffic stop when they see a driver looking at an electronic device. The mother of a 23-year-old man who was killed in a highway work zone accident in 2015 was a prominent supporter of bill. Accident investigators determined that the distracted driver who struck and killed her son was traveling at 40 mph.
Obtaining evidence of distraction
When pursuing car accidents lawsuits on behalf of road users who may have been injured by a distracted driver, experienced personal injury attorneys could gather evidence by using subpoenas to obtain the defendant’s cellphone records. Attorneys may also seek to obtain the electronic information that many modern automobiles store under their hoods. This data could support their arguments by revealing that no evasive action was taken prior to a crash.