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When It Comes to Distracted Driving, the Police Are Not Above the Law

It seems that a day doesn’t pass without another report of an accident caused by distracted driving, which involves engaging in almost any activity in a car in addition to actually driving the automobile. Talking or texting on mobile devices is the most common activity that people associate with distracted driving accidents, which account for close to 10 percent of the accidents on our nation’s roads.

Forced to drive distracted?

Certain professions actually require individuals to engage in distracted driving. One of the primary fields that force people to engage in distracted driving is law enforcement, which includes a variety of jobs in which individuals operate in-car laptops. These armrest-mounted computers provide police and state troopers with a variety of information from databases, in addition to permitting them to file reports and paperwork immediately from patrol cars. In-car laptops also permit law enforcement professionals to use email accounts and other applications, which may prove extremely distracting if accessed while they’re driving.

This is extremely problematic in light of the fact that many law enforcement jobs require near-constant monitoring of computer displays. With 25 to 30 percent of deaths in the line of duty resulting from motor vehicle crashes, law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned about technological distractions in squad cars. One solution that has been proposed is implementing safeguards that prevent computers from reacting to interaction from the mouse or keyboard while cars are moving at speeds above 5 miles per hour. Such safeguards have been effective in automobiles that have television and touch screens.

Real-world consequences

While the extent to which the distracted driving of law enforcement officers is a problem may be open for debate, the injuries suffered by victims of distracted drivers are unquestionable. Most recently, a Lee County family suffered a devastating crash with a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, who was later cited for careless driving based on his operation of an in-car laptop. The trooper crashed into the family’s Jeep, injuring two children and their mother and causing the death of the unborn child she was carrying. In total, the crash is estimated to have cost the family a half-million dollars in medical bills, in addition to their emotional trauma that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

It’s essential for anyone struck by a distracted driver, regardless of the reason for the distraction, to seek legal counsel to help apportion liability and recover monetary compensation for any damages sustained.

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