In recent years, mobile phone and social media use while driving have become increasingly significant dangers on the road. Even if you have fully committed to avoiding screens while at the wheel, you undoubtedly encounter multiple other drivers who are not as responsible or diligent on any given day.
Eventually, that risk could manifest in the form of a crash caused by someone using a mobile phone instead of properly focusing on the road and safety. If you experience a crash that resulted in personal injury, substantial property damage or the death of a loved one, and you believe the other driver was using their phone at the time of the crash, you may wonder how you or the police can prove that distraction was a contributing factor to the collision.
The police have certain protocols to follow in cases involving distraction
If one of the drivers, a nearby witness or the officer responding to the crash suggests that the driver who caused the crash had their phone out at the time of the accident, police officers looking into the crash should take certain special steps.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has specific rules in place to help law enforcement officers determine whether distraction and mobile phone use contributed to a collision. Collecting and inspecting the phone at the scene of the collision is one step, but it is a step that is easy for a distracted driver to manipulate.
It only takes a few seconds for someone to manually delete the record of the text message they sent, their Snapchat update or the email they read. People can even uninstall apps before police arrive. Thankfully, law enforcement officers can request records from the cellphone company providing service to the driver. Those records will show conclusively whether data use played a role in the crash.
Other evidence can also build the distracted driving claim
If you or other witnesses saw the driver with their phone in their hands or their face turned down into their lap right before the crash, those are red flags for distraction. Witness testimony alone could help you convince insurance providers or the courts that distraction played a role in the crash.
After all, someone could look down at their phone without actually using data or dangerous apps. Scrolling through previous messages or looking at their gallery of images could be just as distracting as reading the text message from their friend. Beyond witness reports, traffic cameras, dashboard cameras and security cameras at homes and businesses near the scene of the accident may also have important footage.
Police may gather that footage, or you may want to have your attorney reach out to the businesses and residential property owners nearby to ensure that security footage from immediately before the crash doesn’t wind up deleted before someone can review it for evidence of distraction.