Any activity or behavior that takes a driver's focus away from safely piloting the vehicle puts his life—and the lives of others on the road—at risk. Having an animated conversation with passengers, scolding unruly children, or answering your cell phone while driving may not seem particularly dangerous, but these and other distracted driving behaviors result in thousands of injuries and deaths each year in the United States. Don't become a distracted driving statistic. Learn about the dangers posed by common driver distractions and how to explore your legal options if you or someone you love was injured in an accident.
Recognizing Distracted Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), driver distractions usually fall into one of the following three categories:
- Visual distractions – Cause you to look away from the road.
- Manual distractions – Cause you to take one or both hands off of the steering wheel.
- Cognitive distractions – Cause you to think about something other than driving.
Any on-the-road behavior that causes visual, manual, or cognitive distractions can be dangerous, even if the activity itself seems rather innocuous. For example, eating while driving may not strike you as particularly deadly, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that this single driver distraction is responsible for up to 80 percent of all car accidents and 65 percent of near misses on the road. Other common driver distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone, the dangers of which are not decreased by using a hand-free device.
- Changing the music in the vehicle.
- Navigating via a paper map or GPS system.
- Conversing with passengers or scolding children.
- Putting on makeup or fixing your hair.
- Thinking about an upcoming appointment, review, or exam.
Texting—which requires all three types of driver distractions—is particularly insidious, resulting in as many as 1,600,000 accidents each year, according to the National Safety Council.
How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
Most motorists recognize the dangers of drunk or drugged driving, but don't realize that distracted driving can be just as deadly. For example, in 2013, distracted driving-related car accidents resulted in approximately 400,000 injuries and more than 3,150 deaths. Consider these alarming distracted driving statistics:
- Talking on a cell phone or smartphone quadruples a driver's risk of being involved in an accident, according to research conducted by David Strayer, a prominent neuroscientist at the University of Utah.
- Strayer also found that texting while driving makes motorists eight times as likely to be involved in a car crash.
- Drivers under the age of 20 are the demographic most likely to drive while distracted; as many as 10 percent of drivers in this age group who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident.
- 27 percent of drivers involved in distracted driving accidents that resulted in fatalities were in their 20s.
- In 2011, 17 percent (nearly one in five) of accidents involving injuries were caused by a distracted driver.
- Receiving or sending a text message distracts a driver for approximately five seconds; when driving at highway speeds, this means the driver was not focusing on piloting the vehicle while it traveled a distance up to 300 feet.
- In a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 90 percent of drivers said that the dangers posed by using a cell phone or smartphone while driving were “unacceptable.” However, as many as 35 percent of these same drivers admitted to engaging in such behavior in the past month.
Were You Injured by a Distracted Driver?
If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may find yourself dealing with a long and difficult recovery, or buried under a mountain of debt. Fortunately, there is help. Contact the knowledgeable personal injury attorneys with the Packard Law Firm for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case. You may be entitled to pursue compensation for any current or future medical bills related to the accident, property damage to your vehicle, or lost wages if your injuries prevent you from working. Packard Law Firm's experienced legal team is ready to help you secure any compensation you may deserve.