Distracted driving is one of the most common reasons for car and truck accidents in South Jersey. You may know that the other driver involved in your crash was on their cell phone or messing with the radio when the accident happened.
However, you must be able to successfully prove this in order to convince the insurance companies or jury members that distracted driving was a factor in your collision.
- Police reports: Anytime you are involved in any type of accident, you should dial 9-1-1. Law enforcement officers will arrive at the scene of your accident and make a police report about what happened. For example, they will write down the date and time that the crash happened, where the crash occurred, and what caused the crash. This report will also go over important elements, such as the drivers involved, what the vehicles look like, and insurance information.
If the police officers notice any signs that the at-fault driver was distracted during the accident, they will write it down on the report. For example, they may write that they saw a cell phone on the individual’s dashboard with a social media app open. You can request a copy of the police report within a few days after the crash. After you have this crash report in hand, you should give it to your car accident attorney to use as evidence for your case.
- Eyewitness testimonies: Another way to prove distracted driving caused your car or truck accident is by finding eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses are other drivers, bystanders, or pedestrians who were near the scene when your accident occurred. If you notice anyone who you think may have seen your accident occur, you can exchange contact information and ask if they would be willing to give an eyewitness testimony for your case. They may be able to provide a statement saying that they saw the other driver using a cell phone or changing the radio station when he slammed into your vehicle.
- Video surveillance footage: If there are any businesses or homes near the location of your accident, there is a good chance that someone has surveillance cameras that may have captured your accident. This footage may help you prove distracted driving caused your accident by showing that the other driver failed to brake before they struck your car, which is a sign that they were occupied with something else at the time of the crash.
- Cell phone records: Since texting and talking on the phone are very popular distractions among automobile and truck drivers, your attorney can subpoena the driver’s cell phone records. These records will show if any text messages or phone calls were in progress or being made at the time of the crash, which is key information for proving distracted driving.
- Social media account activity: Your lawyer can do some research and find the at-fault driver’s social media accounts. By finding this information, they may be able to see if any posts, photos, or comments were posted at the time of the accident. Instagram, Facebook, and X are common social media accounts to check for.
- Truck black box data: Tractor-trailers should have a “black box” which stores data and information about a truck driver’s recent route and actions. A lawyer can request the data from the black box, revealing the speed, miles, acceleration, and braking before and during the accident. This is vital information because it reveals if the truck driver was following all regulations as well as if there were signs of distracted driving, such as failing to hit the brakes.
- Dashcam footage: Another effective way to prove a truck driver’s distracted driving caused your accident is by viewing their dashcam footage. A lot of commercial trucks have dash cameras, showing what happened before and during the crash. This footage may also show what the driver was doing right before the crash, which may include eating, scrolling on their phone, or falling asleep behind the wheel.
What are New Jersey’s distracted driving laws?
According to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC), New Jersey drivers are not allowed to use any handheld communication device. This means that drivers cannot send or receive text messages, send or receive emails, make phone calls, or listen to voicemails while holding a handheld communication device. The NJMVC website explains that “Although it is discouraged, drivers may use a hands-free device if it does not interfere with standard safety equipment.”
If you need to use your cellular device, it should be only for emergency situations only, such as dialing 9-1-1. When making an emergency phone call, you must continue to have at least one hand controlling the steering wheel. If you are caught using any type of handheld device while driving for non-emergency reasons, you may receive the following punishments:
- First-time offenders may receive a $200 fine.
- Second-time offenders may be required to pay a $400 fine.
- Three or more offenses may result in a $600 fine, three points on your driving record, and 90-day license suspension.
The Cherry Hill personal injury attorneys from Ferrara & Gable take distracted driving accident cases very seriously. We know the ins and outs of these types of cases and will help you preserve and gather the necessary evidence needed to support your side of the story. To find out more about filing a distracted driving accident claim, call our offices or submit our contact form today. Our team serves all of South Jersey.