Safe driving should always be a priority. But it's even more important when it comes to collecting damages following a car accident in Alabama. Renewing your resolve to practice road safety is a great way to start the year.
As the Montgomery Advertiser reported, Alabama troopers investigated 23 fatalities over the holiday travel period. Fatal crashes were reported in Autauga, Baldwin, Calhoun, Choctaw, Colbert, Coosa, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Escambia, Geneva, Limestone, Mobile, Russell, St. Clair, Shelby and Washington counties. In all, state police investigated nearly 600 traffic fatalities last year.
The University of Alabama reported that 2016 traffic deaths were up nearly 25 percent compared to the previous year. For those injured in Alabama following a traffic collision, determining fault will determine who is responsible for paying medical bills and other damages. In all, the state reported more than 150,000 traffic crashes last year. The most common causes of accidents and injuries were speeding, failure to wear seat belts, distracted driving, and collisions involving pedestrians, according to the study.
Distracted Driving & Preventable Alabama Traffic Collisions
Distraction continues to be a growing problem and a primary cause impacting the most drivers. The number of reported crashes involving driver distraction in Alabama has increased about 20 percent in the last two years. Under Alabama law (Section 32-5A-350), all drivers are prohibited from text messaging behind the wheel. The law makes the violation a primary offense, meaning a driver can be stopped and ticketed. However, it is only punishable by a $25 fine for a first offense. Many other states have gone much further, including prohibiting the use of all handheld devices for talking or texting while driving.
Driver distraction does not just include electronic devices; it can also include distractions caused by talking to passengers, dealing with pets and children, grooming, eating or drinking. External distractions like traffic accidents and road construction also increase the risk of a collision. Remaining focused on the task of driving is particularly critical at intersections where bicyclists, pedestrians and other obstacles always increases the risk of an accident.
Unsafe Behavior and Car Accident Liability
By resolving to avoid distraction and other dangerous driving behaviors, you not only reduce the chance of being involved in a collision but also reduce the chance of being found at fault. Motorists owe each other a duty of care to act with reasonable prudence for the safety of those around them. Alabama is an at-fault state, so being found responsible for a car accident can lead to a collection of damages by injured parties, including passengers in an at-fault driver's vehicle. However, Alabama is also a state that recognizes contributory negligence, which means that being found even partially responsible may eliminate a driver's chance of making a financial recovery as contributory negligence is considered an affirmative defense.
Alabama's tough stance when it comes to contributory negligence makes safe driving all the more important. If you are hit by a drunk driver while on your cell phone, you may be prevented from seeking recovery. In the event of an auto accident with a distracted driver, you should speak to an attorney who can help weigh your options.