If you’re the victim of an accident resulting from another driver being distracted, you have up to two years from the date of the accident to file your compensation claim.
Gathering evidence is part of creating your claim, and that evidence-gathering process includes offering proof that the other driver was distracted from the road.
Understanding what distraction means in the context of vehicular incidents is the first step to gathering this evidence.
Las Vegas law outlines four potential categories of distraction. If you prove the other driver’s behavior falls into any of these categories, you have solid grounds for a compensation claim.
Category 1 – Manual
Manual distractions cover any actions that cause a driver to take their hands off the wheel. An obvious example is texting or trying to make a call on a cell phone. Both of those actions require the use of a hand, meaning the driver has less control of their vehicle and is thus more likely to crash.
Other examples are seemingly innocent but equally as dangerous.
A simple twist of a radio dial requires a driver to take a hand off the wheel, which is a manual action. Eating, smoking, or even taking off an item of clothing while driving all require the use of your hands.
Then, there’s the most dangerous manual action of all – reaching for a moving object.
Not only does this action take the driver’s eyes off the road, but the motion involved in reaching for another object means the driver is reacting to something other than the road ahead. In fact, this is such a dangerous manual motion that the Nevada Department of Transport (DOT) says it increases the risk of a crash occurring by nine times compared to undistracted driving.
Category 2 – Visual
A visual distraction is anything that causes a driver to take their eyes away from the road. It applies even if the driver keeps their hands at 10 and two, and is otherwise driving perfectly. Using an example from the “Manual” category, reaching for a moving object also has a visual element. The driver has to see and pay attention to the object before trying to grab it, creating a combination of manual and visual distractions that likely lead to a higher crash possibility, the Nevada DOT suggests.
Other examples can be mere glances at something other than the road that still accounts for a second or two of distraction.
Every time somebody checks out a street sign, reads a text, or looks at a passenger is a visual distraction that could result in an accident. The same goes for looking at maps or being foolish enough to watch videos when driving.
Category 3 – Cognitive
A driver’s mind should be on the road at all times when driving. Remember – they’re controlling a 3,000-pound hunk of metal on wheels, which is dangerous enough without a distracted driver. Any mental distraction that pulls the driver’s thoughts away from what’s happening on the road falls into the cognitive category.
Often, cognitive distractions combine with visual or manual distractions. For instance, the act of reaching for a moving object discussed earlier requires a thought process that focuses on the object rather than the road.
But more obvious examples include daydreaming or conversing with passengers. Both require active thought away from the act of driving, making each a distraction that falls into the cognitive category.
Category 4 – Auditory
The auditory category is all about what a driver hears.
It’s the lesser-known of the four categories because many drivers underestimate how important their sense of hearing is to safe driving. But as an obvious example, playing music so loud that you can’t hear anything on the road, from sirens to other cars, is an auditory distraction.
The same goes for talking on a phone. That distraction crosses categories, potentially leading to violations across the board. There’s an auditory distraction due to the conversation, with that conversation also creating a cognitive distraction. Holding a phone covers the manual category, and a visual distraction can come from looking at the phone to dial.
Exceptions to the Distraction Categories
You can boil the distractive categories down to a simple explanation – anything that distracts your senses when driving means you’re paying less attention to the road.
However, there are exceptions to the rules. The state of Nevada classifies a driver as being exempt from distracted driving laws in the following circumstances:
- They’re actively attending to a medical emergency or safety hazard, which includes reporting that emergency or hazard to the relevant authorities.
- The driver is a utility worker responding to an emergency or outage who is distracted by the devices their company provides for use as part of that response.
- Any driver who has a license to use a two-way radio or citizen band (CB) that requires the use of a handheld microphone. Truck drivers often fall into this category because of their use of CB radios.
- The driver has an autonomous vehicle.
- Any driver who uses a voice-operated navigation system, such as Google Maps.
- All law enforcement officers and emergency personnel who are acting in the scope of their professional roles, such as police officers using their in-car radios to respond to calls.
- Amateur radio operators aiding in emergency or disaster-relief efforts.
If the driver you’ve had an accident with can prove that they fall into one of these exemption categories, you likely won’t be able to make a compensation claim.
Understand What Distraction Means Before Starting Your Claim Process
Collecting evidence to prove a distraction led to an accident isn’t a simple task.
As the victim in such an accident, you likely had your eyes on the road, though there’s a chance you also saw the other driver. Any witness statement you can provide helps your compensation case. But to gather evidence properly, you need the help of a personal injury attorney.
Good attorneys start by gathering every detail related to your accident. They’ll search for photos, obtain your medical records (with your permission), and acquire police reports. The latter can be especially crucial evidence because a police report offers details concerning the accident’s cause. An attorney also gathers witness statements, which could lead to more people supporting your claim that the other driver was distracted.