Many people are under the impression that the use of cellphones is the main cause of distracted driving accidents on America’s roadways. But, further investigation finds there are a number of activities and circumstances that result in driving while distracted, and the growing number of serious motor vehicle accidents show the problem is growing.
The term ‘distracted driving’ can involve all types of situations:
- Talking or interacting with other passengers in your car
- Fixing your hair or applying makeup
- Eating or drinking
- Using your GPS navigation system
- Adjusting your radio settings
- Talking on your phone
- Smoking a cigarette
By The Numbers: Serious Injury and Fatality Stats Increased by Distracted Driving
According to statistics compiled by Distraction.gov, the number of people utilizing some sort of handheld electronic device while behind the wheel increased from 1.7% in 2013 to 2.2% in 2014. Another study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), points out that younger drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 have been observed using some type of electronic device while driving more frequently than older drivers.
These stats are only a few that illustrate the tragic effects of serious car, motorcycle, commercial truck and even bicycle accidents caused by distraction that result in permanent physical injury and even death.
Here are a few more things you may not know about distracted driving:
- 3,179 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2014
- 431,000 were left with serious injuries that same year
- 33% of surveyed drivers in an insurance company study admitted to texting while driving
- 53% of adult cellphone users have been involved in a ‘distracted walking encounter’, either nearly being struck while on foot, or almost hitting a distracted pedestrian while behind the wheel
- There is a 25% chance that a motor vehicle crash involved someone using a cellphone
- You are 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash if you’re using a cellphone while behind the wheel
- 9 people die every day as a result of a distracted driving accident
- Drivers 21-24 years old are most likely to send text or email messages while driving
While one-third of drivers will admit to texting while driving, 95% of those same drivers also acknowledge that it is wrong, and a very dangerous practice. This is why educating drivers of all age groups on the dangers of distracted driving, coupled with more severe and vigilant enforcement of laws governing distracted driving, are important to reduce or eliminate the potential for a serious crash.
The Ugly Aftermath of Distracting Driving Accidents
Fort Myers FL personal injury attorneys see a shocking amount of real-world, lasting aftermath resulting from a serious distracted driving accident. Families can be destroyed and lives turned upside down because someone was not fully focused on their driving. Many cases involve severe traumatic injury – perhaps the loss of a limb or a brain injury that will require physical or mental health care for the rest of a person’s life. Others distracted driving accidents result in a fatality, often taking away a family breadwinner and resulting in devastation for the family left behind.
Most people admit they know its wrong – but too many still do it.
Many personal injury lawsuits result from a serious crash caused by a drunk or impaired driver. Today, because of the surge in the use of personal handheld electronic devices, the cause of a serious crash is more likely because of a distracted driver. Multiple studies have shown that reaction time of a distracted driver behind the wheel can be slowed by as much as 35%, while the reaction time of a drunk driver is decreased by approximately 12%.
Studies conducted by the NHTSA show that the effects on a distracted driver when compared to those of a drunk driver are quite similar. Both involve actions like erratically swerving into another lane, tailgating the car in front of you or being unable to stop in time to avoid rear-ending the car in front of you. The research goes on to say that the act of texting while driving is the equivalent of drinking four beers.
The bottom line is distracted driving of any kind – whether you’re putting on lipstick, eating a burger or messing with your CD player – means you have taken your eyes off the road. A paper published by the Journal of Adolescent Health notes that 2 seconds is the amount of time a driver may ‘safely’ take their eyes off the road. Sadly, the same research points out that the average amount of time involved in someone texting while driving is 5 seconds.
It’s no secret that distracted driving is reaching epidemic proportions in America. While 46 states do currently have some type of legislation on the books designed to regulate this extremely hazardous driving infraction, many people feel the laws should have more bite.
More Legal Questions Involving Distracted Driving Crashes
With the increase in people who are likely to use a cellphone or engage in some other form of distracted driving, many new circumstances come into play in personal injury lawsuits. For example, let’s suppose a person is seriously hurt by someone who was found to have been reading a text while behind the wheel. What about the person that sent that text – can they now become liable for causing, or at least partially causing, that accident?
There have been legal cases before state courts in many parts of the country that bring this liability theory into play. The court system now has the additional responsibility to hand down rulings and decisions involving so many more specific circumstances regarding distracted driving crashes. Our hunger for ever-changing, faster technology does not bode well for the risk of being injured by a distracted driver.
There are a number of sources out there that produce internet videos shared on social media, and television public service announcements, and some of them are extremely effective in showing the real results of a distracted driving crash. Few things are more shocking than watching a teenager fly through a car’s front windshield because the driver was looking down to send or receive a text message.
But the truth is, unless we all make the commitment to stop this dangerous practice, all the educational efforts in the world may not solve the problem.
Thanks to our friends and blog authors at Goldberg & Noone, LLC for their insight into the dangers of distracted driving.