Distracted driving is a dangerous problem that can cause injuries and cost lives, as it can result in motorcycle, car, and truck accidents that can have devastating consequences. Distracted driving includes any activity that removes a driver’s attention from the roadway and can include texting while driving, eating, and engaging with others inside the vehicle’s cabin.
Texting while driving is particularly serious because it involves all three types of distracted driving behaviors by removing the driver’s eyes, hands, and focus from the roadway. Far too many motorists engage in this risky behavior with little thought about how they are putting themselves and others in danger. Sadly, public service announcements and anti-texting laws have failed to satisfactorily curtain texting and driving as well as the serious harm that it causes.
Are distracted driving accidents becoming more common?
To knowingly participate in behavior known to be both dangerous and illegal seems foolish in the extreme. And yet, despite years of public campaigns and state legislation, motorists from California to Connecticut continue to drive distracted.
How common is distracted driving?
The answer is: it is very common, distracted driving has its own government website. Despite laws combating distracted driving, including the banning of texting and driving in 46 states, it still happens alarmingly often. According to a survey conducted in 2015, approximately 33 percent of drivers admit to texting while behind the wheel.
In fact, it is estimated that at any given time as many as 660,000 drivers are using a handheld electronic device while driving in this country. That number remains virtually unchanged since 2010.
Young drivers are most likely to be involved in distracted driving accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 percent of all young drivers (15-19 years old) involved in fatal collisions were distracted at the time of the accidents. That is the highest proportion relative to the size of the group among all demographic divisions.
Additionally, motorists between 20-29 years of age make up 27 percent of distracted drivers in fatal accidents, and 38 percent of drivers who were using a cell phone at the time of a crash causing death. Given their penchant for using electronic devices, it is perhaps not surprising that drivers ages 16 to 24 are more frequently seen using such devices while operating a vehicle than are older drivers.
Is Distracted driving the newest biggest threat on the roadways today?
Distracted driving is taking over from impaired driving as the leading cause of accidents in the United States. In 2014, distracted driving accidents injured 431,000 people. A further 3,179 people were killed in collisions involving a distracted driver.
All types of serious injuries may be sustained in a distracted driving crash including:
- Broken bones
- Lost limbs, and/or other extremities
- Damage to internal organs
- Brain/head injuries
- Loss of life
What are the different types of distracted driving accidents?
There are many different types of distraction, and they all pose a deadly threat to every other driver and passenger on the road.
When distraction is a factor in a serious car accident, it can be useful to understand the different types of distraction and how they impact a person’s ability to drive safely. If you are a victim of any type of distracted driving motor vehicle accident, you have the right to a full and fair recovery.
The three main types of distracted driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three types of distraction that can take a driver’s attention:
- Visual distraction: From billboards to looking at a navigation system, visual distractions are everywhere. Even with both hands on the wheel, a driver is engaging in risky behavior when taking his or her eyes off the road for just one second.
- Manual distraction: This happens any time a driver takes one or both hands off the wheel. Whether it is due to reaching for a phone or adjusting the radio, manual distraction is dangerous.
- Cognitive distraction: Cognitive distraction happens any time a driver’s attention and thoughts are on anything other than safe driving. This can include talking to a passenger or simply being lost in one’s thoughts.
Texting and driving is one of the most common distraction-related behaviors exhibited by drivers, and it is one of the most dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. Texting is also dangerous because it takes a driver’s attention for longer periods of time. Experts estimate that when traveling at 55 miles per hour, reading a text can take a driver’s attention off the road for a distance as long as a football field.
Distractions place you and others at risk of injury or death
The best thing you can do when driving is to remain alert behind the wheel and adhere to all traffic and safety regulations. It’s also a good idea to know how to recognize a possible distracted driver when you see one.
You can’t do anything about another person’s driving choices. However, you may be able to avoid collision if you spot potential danger nearby and have enough time to safely and quickly react to avert disaster. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. The following distractions are among those that police officers say are the top causes of collisions resulting in injuries or death:
- Reaching for things: Do you remember when you first learned to drive? Your instructor probably had to constantly remind you to keep both hands on the wheel. That’s because reaching for things inside your vehicle places you and other motorists in the vicinity at risk for collision. Modern technology has produced many electronic devices and systems that make navigation much easier and more convenient; however, reaching for a GPS apparatus or other device takes your hands and attention off the road, which may lead to tragedy.
- Daydreaming: Many law enforcement officers list this type of distraction as a number one cause of car accidents. The problem is you may not be able to recognize when another driver is lost in thought. When you’re driving, you can make continual effort to focus your thoughts on the road ahead and the cars around you. If another motorist is thinking about a date he or she had the night before or an argument with a spouse, the distraction increases the chance for collision.
- Drinking or eating behind the wheel: You might be one of many people who think it saves time (and money) to eat-on-the-go. This is a very bad idea if it means you’ll be trying to do these things while driving. Even a small splash of hot coffee or a drip of condiments from a sandwich is enough to cause you to suddenly divert your attention to your lap, thus placing you and all others in the area at risk for a crash.
- Using cell phones: Many states have enacted laws against using hand-held electronic devices while driving. Many drivers continue to do it anyway. Texting or even using speaker volume or headphones to conduct a business meeting or talk to friends or family members are major distractions that often have disastrous results.
If you witness a nearby motorist steering with his or her elbows while using thumbs to type a text message, it’s obvious that that person is highly distracted at the wheel. Other warning signs include cars drifting slightly left or right inside a lane, or veering over the yellow line, as well as vehicles traveling at speeds not consistent with current traffic flow.
Post-accident support available
Medical attention is of paramount importance if you suffer injury in a car accident. Many California accident victims also reach out for legal support when distracted drivers are deemed responsible for their injuries.
Experts say solution to distracted driving is public awareness
Distracted driving has become the focus of various public safety campaigns as more and more people become aware of the dangers, particularly of using a cellphone while behind the wheel. There have been various efforts at trying to curb distracted driving, particularly among car companies and cellphone companies trying to make devices less prone to misuse. For example, one program disabled applications when the device is traveling at a certain speed, which is effective for drivers but may not be helpful if you are a passenger in a car.
While these innovations are certainly helpful in the fight to curb distracted driving and prevent injuries and fatalities, the Governors Highway Association has now stated that they believe the focus should be on public education and deterring the drivers themselves.
Distracted driving is often compared to drunk driving, which has been combated with a combination of public awareness and strict laws.
One expert in the field said it may be helpful to encourage drivers to think of their time in the car the same way that we think of our time in an airplane – a set period of travel time during which calls cannot be made and texts cannot be written or read.
What should you do if a distracted driver hurts you?
If distraction played a role in your accident, it can be beneficial to seek the help of an attorney experienced in fighting for victims of distracted driving. It is possible to build a strong claim, and a thorough investigation can determine how to move forward with a potential civil claim. In order to ensure a strong representation of your rights and interests, you would be wise to work with a legal ally as soon as possible after your accident.
Distracted driver victims should focus on recovery
If you’ve been hurt in a collision with a distracted driver, it is important for you to concern yourself first and foremost with getting better. Insurance and legal matters can be distracting and distressing to both you and your family.
Fortunately, there are caring and experienced lawyers available who know, ready to assist those in need of legal assistance and support. Professionals from a family-run and victim-focused firm can help seek justice and compensation on your behalf after a serious accident.
How to get compensation for a distracted driving accident
A distracted driver who has harmed victims because of careless and negligent behavior may be liable to compensate victims for the damages those victims suffer. Violation of distracted driving laws can be used as evidence that a motorist was negligent in a claim to recover damages resulting from a distracted driving accident. Succeeding on one of these claims can be critically important, as the compensation recovered may help pay medical expenses, recoup lost wages, and ease pain and suffering. This financial relief can, in turn, allow a victim to focus on reclaiming his or her health and getting back to his or her normal life.
To increase your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit, you need to know the law and how it applies to their unique situation. Failing to do so could result in a losing claim and a future that is fraught with financial challenges. Therefore, those victims who want accountability, compensation, and closure should think about discussing the matter with a qualified attorney who may be able to help them craft a strong winning case.
Huffington Post, “To Fix Distracted Driving, Experts Say Target The People, Not The Tech,” Bianca Bosker, Aug. 27, 2013.
FindLaw, “Distracted Driving,” accessed July 25, 2017