Distracted Driving Accidents In Kansas

distracted driving accident

Kansas law makes it illegal to text while driving, because texting creates a driver distraction that causes accidents. Other forms of distracted driving are equally dangerous, even though they may not be illegal. If you receive injuries because of a distracted driver, you may be able to recover personal injury compensation. The accident attorneys at Sloan Law Firm have experience representing victims of distracted driving accidents.

Dangers of Distracted Driving

Statistical reports indicate that distracted driving is on the increase nationwide, putting all drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others at a high risk of injury caused by a distracted driver. Kansas is consistently among the highest ranked states for the number of distracted driving accidents. Nationwide, a distracted driver causes one out of every four accidents.

When you drive, taking your eyes off the road for even two seconds is long enough to cause an accident. Many different temptations lead to distractions for drivers. In Kansas, distracted drivers are legally responsible for injuries they cause, even for distractions that are not illegal.

Injured victims may be able to receive compensation from a distracted driver. Getting assistance from an experienced accident lawyer is strongly recommended if you receive injuries in a distracted driving accident.

Kansas Distracted Driving Laws

Texting on an electronic device is the most common — and most dangerous — form of distracted driving. For that reason, a Kansas law makes it illegal to text while driving. K.S.A. § 8-15,111 states that “no person shall operate a motor vehicle on a public road or highway while using a wireless communications device to write, send or read a written communication.”

The state texting law does not totally prohibit use of a wireless device, and the provisions do include exceptions. The prohibition does not apply to:

(1) A law enforcement officer or emergency service personnel acting within the course and scope of the law enforcement officer's or emergency service personnel's employment;

(2) a motor vehicle stopped off the regular traveled portion of the roadway;

(3) a person who reads, selects or enters a telephone number or name in a wireless communications device for the purpose of making or receiving a phone call;

(4) a person who receives an emergency, traffic or weather alert message; or

(5) a person receiving a message related to the operation or navigation of the motor vehicle.

In addition, the law permits texting on a wireless device while driving to report current or continuing illegal activity, prevent injury to a person or property, or relay information between a for-hire driver and dispatcher on a permanently installed device.

Kansas laws include these other prohibitions for young drivers:

  • A driver between the ages of 14 and 17 with a permit and drivers with a restricted license or farm permit from any use of an electronic device other than reporting illegal activity or getting medical or emergency help.
  • Drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 cannot have more than one non-immediate family member under age 18 in a vehicle.
  • Drivers under age 16 with a restricted or farm license cannot have any non-sibling passengers under age 18 in a vehicle.

Failure to abide by the Kansas distracted driving laws may lead to a fine, suspension of driving privileges, court costs and attorney’s fees, and an increase in insurance rates, depending on the violation. In addition to the statutes specifically addressing distracted driving, a driver who causes an accident because of any distraction (legal or illegal) may face a reckless driving charge or vehicular homicide charge for another person’s death.

Common Types of Distracted Driving

Except for young drivers, Kansas laws only prohibit texting on a wireless device. Other uses are not illegal, so you can still use a device for other purposes. However, other uses also constitute distracted driving and can cause accidents, so using caution is essential. The best approach is to put your phone or other device away when you’re driving and refrain from using it at all.

There are many other types of distracted driving that cause accidents, which are not illegal activity — although they could lead to other driving charges, as mentioned earlier. Common examples of other driver distractions include:

  • Disciplining or taking care of children in the car
  • Eating or drinking
  • Playing with or tending to a dog or other pet
  • Engaging in personal care, like applying makeup
  • Talking on a cellphone
  • Using an entertainment system or radio
  • Reaching for objects in the vehicle
  • Interacting with passengers
  • Using social media
  • Playing loud music that obscures surrounding sounds (like emergency vehicles)

The fact that you can legally engage in these types of activities while driving does not mean you should. Diverting your eyes from the road for five seconds when you’re driving at 55 miles an hour is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. A lot of things can go wrong over that distance and result in an accident.

Injuries in Distracted Driving Accidents

If you receive injuries in an accident and think the at-fault driver caused the accident because of texting or another distraction, getting help from a lawyer experienced in distracted driving accidents is essential. Your attorney needs familiarity with the legal intricacies relating to distracted driving cases to know how to investigate your case. For example, your lawyer may need subpoena cell phone records or vehicle black box data. Locating and analyzing available video from cameras that captured the accident also is important. The police report also may contain relevant details.

An important issue in distracted driving accidents is whether an injured victim also may have been a distracted driver. In that case, the Kansas comparative negligence rule may limit the amount of recovery. Especially for that reason, you should never talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company directly. If you do, you might make a statement that relates to your own distraction (or negligence), which can harm your case. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, and let your lawyer handle all communications with the insurance company.

The attorneys at Sloan Law Firm have experience representing victims of distracted driving accidents. We encourage you to reach out to us if a distracted driver injures you.

Talk With a Kansas Distracted Driving Accident Attorney

The personal injury attorneys at Sloan Law Firm have the right experience and knowledge to help you handle all aspects of a distracted driving claim. From our offices in Topeka and Lawrence, our lawyers assist clients throughout the state. We invite you to contact us by calling (785) 357-6311 or using our online contact form.