If you're in the baby boomer generation or older, you may recall taking leisurely Sunday drives with your family as a child. Nowadays, this form of free time activity is not as common, quite possibly because Montana roadways are a lot more dangerous now than they were then. Why? One reason is simply that there are many more cars on the road at any given time than there used to be. Posted speed limits are often higher, as well.
One of the leading factors of increased highway danger, however, is that of distracted driving. You may adhere to all traffic regulations and practice good driving habits that help keep yourself and your passengers safe, but if there's a distracted driver nearby, you and anyone else in the vicinity are at great risk for injury. It's important to be able to recognize signs of distracted driving and also to know where to seek support if a collision occurs.
Why hands-free isn't always danger-free
People often say they consider themselves safe drivers because they only use BlueTooth devices or other hands-free mechanisms to conduct business, navigate their travel routes or talk to friends or family while driving. The following list shows hands-free activities that people misguidedly believe to be safe that often cause distractions that lead to serious collisions:
- Using a vehicle's wireless internet equipment
- Looking at the screen of a navigation device
- Trying to pay attention to audio-fed travel instructions
- Listening to podcasts while driving
- Having a phone conversation
- Attending a business meeting by way of a hands-free device
Many Montana drivers would argue that the activities mentioned here are safe because they do not involve hand-held electronic equipment. However, studies show there is no correlation between hands-free devices and increased safety; in fact, current crash data suggests hands-free equipment still places travelers at great risk for collision due to cognitive and visual distraction issues.
If a distracted driver hits you
The main priority following a motor vehicle crash is to obtain medical attention. If you or someone who was traveling with you when the accident occurred are coherent and physically well enough to photograph the accident scene, it is always a good idea, as this adds to documented evidence that you can show in court if you later decide to file a personal injury claim.
Montana law allows such claims as a means of seeking restitution when a driver causes another person's injury due to his or her distraction when the accident occurred. The court often awards compensation that recovering victims can use to help pay medical expenses and alleviate other costs associated with their injuries.