Auto accident fatalities and driver inattention or distraction

auto accident fatalitiesAuto accident fatalities are a leading cause of death in the United States according to multiple safety organizations and research institutions. In fact, auto accidents are a leading cause of injury and lost productivity in the United States as well.  I suspect that inattentive driving is a leading cause of auto accident fatalities.

Inattentive driving involves small acts leading to tremendous consequences-sometimes deadly consequences.

As a lawyer in Greenville, S.C. who represents families in auto accident fatalities, it is troublesome to see the cause of those fatal car accidents. In fact, those “accidents” are not accidents at all.  Auto accident fatalities usually involve a choice made by a driver – a choice to be inattentive, making routine course of conduct-driving a car-an extremely hazardous activity.

Some safety advocates call it distracted driving. But the more accurate term is inattentive driving; that is, a driver not paying attention while driving. That inattention may involve a driver choosing to text message a friend, or choosing to surf the internet on a smartphone, or choosing to stare off at an object on the side of the road.  Inattentive driving can also mean a driver choosing to daydream or to let one’s mind wander while operating a car or truck.  And all it takes for a fatal wreck to occur is for an inattentive driver to drift just slightly over the center line into oncoming traffic resulting in a usually fatal head-on collision.

Head-on collisions usually result in fatalities. Just today, May 4, 2017, media is reporting about an auto accident fatality resulting in the death of drivers of both automobiles that were involved in a head-on collision in Greenwood, S.C., near Hodges, on Highway 254. There was no mention as to what caused the fatal accident as troopers had not yet released details.

Its a choice. Auto accident fatalities are usually caused by a decision-a choice-to be inattentive and in the blink of an eye, lives are changed forever. When a family loses a beloved family member in an auto accident due to careless, reckless, thoughtless decisions, its a tragedy for the family and society as a whole. The economic and emotional losses are tremendous. Legal claims are necessary to provide for the loss of economic support as well as to compensate the family for the emotional losses of losing a loved one as well. Under South Carolina law, its up to the common sense of a jury to place a value, in the jury’s discretion, on the emotional losses suffered by surviving family members. The jury can consider the loss of guidance, the loss of companionship, the loss of advice and support, that the deceased would have provided to his or her family.  Under the law its called a wrongful death claim.

The law prohibits inattentive driving and deters law abiding citizens from becoming inattentive drivers. The law also helps bereaved, suffering family members to recover economically. Our justice system aims to provide a forum for families to seek a recovery and bring attention to inattentive driving.

Inattentive driving is a scourge on our families and community. It can be stopped. Its a personal choice. Ending it forever involves education and awareness. Will it also involve driverless cars? That’s a topic for the future-the not too distance future.