For many in Connecticut and around the country, it may feel like venturing out on the road these days is riskier than it used to be. Avoidable accidents occur as people seem to be texting more, driving faster and making dangerous decisions to weave into lanes or exit suddenly with no warning. Near misses feel unnecessary, as drivers sideswipe other cars when passing, run red lights and bear down on pedestrians at crosswalks.
Connecticut has seen a sharp rise in traffic-related fatalities this year, up 16% over the previous year. Although there were fewer drivers on the road throughout 2020, when factoring in vehicle miles travelled (VMT), which establishes a ratio between lives lost in relation to the VMT rather than a total number comparison, the spike in deaths was the highest on record.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that in the first half of 2021, there has been a rise of 18.4% in fatalities over 2020. Citing different driving habits as the biggest reason for the increase, officials list speeding, distracted and reckless driving as the causes.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is allowing anything that takes your eyes or attention off the road, even for a moment. It may be checking the mirrors, glancing at an incoming text, eating a sandwich, selecting a playlist, or even looking in the mirror to talk to someone in the back seat. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 3,000 people die every year as a result of distracted driving, and about 20% of these fatalities are pedestrians or bicyclists.
When a driver is reading or sending a text while driving 55 miles per hour, it is the equivalent of driving the full length of a football field with their eyes closed. Young adults aged 20 to 29 make up 25% of the population whose distracted driving caused fatal accidents in 2018, and drivers who are 15 to 19 years old are driving with more distraction than other age groups.
What are negligence laws like in Connecticut?
Like many states with comparative negligence laws, Connecticut follows a modified form in which the injured party may receive compensation in a personal injury claim as long as they are not more than 50% at fault for having caused the accident. If the court finds their responsibility to be greater than half, they will receive nothing.
When pursuing a claim, it is vitally important to understand the legal process for gathering evidence, including:
- examining the police report,
- investigating the scene,
- gathering eyewitness testimony and
- obtaining detailed medical records
to prove that the other driver’s actions were the cause of the accident and the victim’s injuries. It is also wise to act quickly after the accident, however, and explore all options before accepting an insurance settlement.