Distraction Behind the Wheel Can Lead to Devastating Bus Accidents
Every year, thousands of people are injured and hundreds are killed in traffic accidents involving buses in the United States. It is estimated that about 20% of these crashes are caused by distracted drivers. As any experienced bus accident attorney can tell you, distracted driving is the scourge of modern traffic. It seriously endangers the lives of everyone inside and near the bus – passengers of the bus, occupants of other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and the bus driver himself.
Causes of Distracted Driving
Statistics show that distracted driving is on the rise and handheld electronic gadgets are mainly to blame for that. Chief among them is the cellphone. But it’s not just gadgets that cause distracted driving; there are other causes that have been around since the invention of motor vehicles.
The most common cause of distracted driving among bus drivers are:
- Dialing a cellphone while driving
- Texting while driving
- Using social media while driving, such as Facebook and Twitter
- Eating and/or drinking
- Handling or programming GPS devices
- Adjusting the radio or stereo system
- Looking at billboards
- Engaging in conversation with passengers
- Daydreaming or being lost in thoughts
- Shaving, putting on makeup, etc.
All of these activities, whether done consciously or unconsciously, take the driver’s attention away from the road. Many of them also require the driver to take his or hands off the steering wheel for at least a few seconds, which is enough time for an accident to occur.
Types of Distractions
Distractions have been classified into the following three main types:
- Manual distractions: These are distractions that cause the driver to take his hands away from the steering wheel and, if applicable, gear shift level. Examples including dialing the cellphone, texting, handling GPS devices and adjusting the stereo system.
- Visual distractions: These are distractions that cause the driver to take his eyes off the road. Examples include texting, using the GPS and playing app games like Pokemon Go.
- Cognitive distractions: These are distractions that cause the driver’s mind to wander away from the task of driving. Examples include passengers demanding the driver’s attention, engaging in conversation with passengers or crew members, and daydreaming.
All three types of distractions are equally dangerous because a driver needs to engage his hands, eyes and mind completely on the task of driving. Losing focus for even just a few seconds can result in an accident.
Consequences of Distracted Driving
Bus accidents often result in serious injuries and fatalities. Survivors often sustain injuries that leave them impaired for life. Some of the most severe injuries sustained by people involved in bus accidents are:
- Whiplash and cervical spine injury: The muscles and ligaments of the neck and the cervical part of the spine are damaged by the rapid backward and forward movement of the neck. Symptoms include neck pain, jaw pain, reduced range of movement in the neck, muscle spasms, lower back pain, headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, anxiety and depression. The symptoms can last from a few hours to several years.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): The normal functions of the brain are disrupted by a severe jolt or blow to the head. Symptoms include unconsciousness, vomiting, nausea, headache, dizziness, weakness or numbness in the fingers and toes, convulsions or seizures, loss of coordination, inability to wake up from sleep, confusion, slurred speech and unusual behavior. Some victims may go into a coma and never recover.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI): A violent blow to the back fracturing or dislocating the vertebrae can result in SCI. Symptoms include loss of sensation, muscle functions and autonomic functions in the affected parts of the body. Severe SCI can lead to lifelong paralysis.
- Amputation and disfigurement: Limbs can be cut through or crushed upon impact, forcing an amputation. Physical trauma to the face can disfigure the victim for life.
- Severe burns: If the bus or another vehicle catches fire after a collision, victims may sustain severe burn injuries that can leave them disabled or disfigured for life – that is, if they survive.
Recovering your losses in a bus accident in not a straightforward process. With so much at stake, bus companies usually do not accept liability without a fight. But with help from a skilled and experienced bus accident attorney, you can bring the bus company to justice and get the full and fair compensation you deserve.