As a society, we're more distractible than ever. Our virtually constant connectivity and unlimited access to information on the internet has made us glued to our devices. On the roads, this is creating a huge safety concern.
Since the advent of smartphones, distracted driving accidents have surged. Many states have begun passing laws to combat texting while driving and other distracted driving behavior. Alaska's laws are among the strictest in the country.
Distracted driving law
Under Alaska law, a driver must not read or type any form of text-based communication on a hand-held electronic device, as long as the car is in motion. In addition, it is illegal for a driver to operate their vehicle if a screen on any device is turned on and in their view. The only exceptions to this rule are screens that display any of the following:
- Voice communication information
- Vehicle controls
- Vehicle navigation
- Rear or side view cameras
There exist additional exceptions for vehicles designated for dispatch services, highway/utility construction or maintenance and emergency response.
Up until a few years ago, a driver caught texting could face a fine of $10,000 and be sentenced to up to a year in prison. Alaska has since softened the penalties for such an offence--as long as it does not lead to someone's injury or death. Now, the penalties are as follows:
- Straight violation: fine up to $500
- Violation resulting in injury: Class C felony. Up to $50,000 in fines and 5 years in prison
- Violation resulting in serious injury: Class B felony. Up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years in prison
- Violation resulting in death: Class A felony. Up to $250,000 in fines and 20 years in prison
Victims of distracted driving accidents
The penalties above describe the criminal repercussions of distracted driving. If you are injured by a distracted driver, you also have the opportunity to file a civil suit against them. This can help you seek compensation for your damages--including vehicle repair, medical bills, lost wages as well as any other (emotional and physical) pain and suffering you experience. It's worthwhile to consult with an experienced car accident attorney about your case.