The Dangers of Driving While Distracted
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving caused the death of 1730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists in 2018. In addition to these deaths, there were an estimated additional 400,000 injuriesin collisions attributed to distracted drivers in 2018.
Everyone agrees that with the prevalence of cell phones, there has been a huge increase in the incidents of distracted driving. This is the reason that 20 states have bans on hand-held cell phone use while driving, and 48 states ban text messaging for drivers. However, distractions can come from things other than cell phones – eating and drinking, reaching for something, changing the radio or navigation system, or even just thinking about things happening at home or work can cause us to lose our focus.
Types of Distractions
Distractions while driving are generally divided into three main categories:
- Visual: causing you to take your eyes off the road;
- Manual: something that makes you take your hands off the steering wheel;
- Cognitive: causing your mind to be on something other than driving.
Teens and Risks
Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest percentage of collisions due to being distracted. However, there are additional risk factors for this group for unsafe behaviors in general. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that, in 2017, 42% of high school students reported sending a text message or email while driving in the previous 30 days; students who reported texting while driving were more likely to also report that they would drink and drive or ride with a driver who had been drinking, and were also less likely to wear a seatbelt.
It’s Just a Few Seconds…
Don’t be fooled into complacency by thinking that taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds isn’t a risk. In fact, it takes an estimated 5 seconds to read a text message. If you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, in that 5 seconds it is comparable to having driven the length of a football field with your eyes covered. Meanwhile, the reaction time and stopping distance at that speed is such that you’re at high risk of causing a collision.
Lead By Example
Most people agree that driving while distracted – especially while using a cell phone – can be dangerous. How do we make a change? The first place to start is to lead by example. If you are in a car and your driver is not paying proper attention to the road, say something. When you are driving, put your phone away (and on silent mode) so you aren’t tempted to check it. Have an honest and frank talk with teenagers within your sphere of influence – drill into them the dangers of distracted driving, and the very real consequences of having an accident caused by distractions. In some states, especially those with graduated drivers licenses, a crash attributed to distracted driving can bring severe consequences.
If You Fall Victim to a Distracted Driver
Unfortunately, regardless of how much we each commit to making safe choices when we are behind the wheel, others aren’t so committed. If you find that you have been injured in a car accident and you suspect the driver was distracted when they hit you, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about the legal options available to you. You may be able to pursue legal action against the driver and recover compensation to cover your losses – such as medical bills, vehicle damage, time lost from work, and pain and suffering.
The personal injury attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen have years of experience successfully helping victims injured in auto accidents receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.