Understanding the Dangers of Distracted Driving
Every time you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you take on a life-or-death responsibility. As every student driver is taught, buckle up, keep both hands on the wheel, keep your eyes on the road, and stay focused. The minute a driver loses focus, the driver is distracted driving and the odds of a motor vehicle crash increase. The chances are that the motor vehicle in that crash, weighing upwards of 4,000 pounds, will cause damage and injury, whether to another car or driver or, in the worst-case scenario, to a pedestrian and causing a fatal crash.
Distracted drivers cause thousands of deaths on the roads across the United States every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2018 alone, 2,800 people in the United States were killed, with 400,000 more injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Along with that, one in five of the people who died in these fatal crashes were not in motor vehicles – they were pedestrians, cyclists, or others not in a car at all.
What Activities Are Considered Driver Distractions?
Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. The four types of distracted driving include:
- Visual: When you take your eyes off the road
- Auditory: When you focus your listening on something not related to driving
- Manual: When you take your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: When you take your mind off driving
Driving distractions are nothing new to drivers. However, a driving distraction that Americans are still adjusting to is cell phone usage while driving. A cell phone may be tiny enough to fit in a person’s hand, but the damage a cell phone can cause when used while driving is considerable beyond measure. It is a driving distraction that can encompass all four types of distracted driving listed above at one time.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or reading a text message on a cell phone while driving 55 miles per hour is like going the length of a football field with your eyes closed. When a person sends a text message while driving, the crash risk increases by 2,300 percent.
Who Is a Distracted Driver?
Distracted drivers are found in all age groups, but certain groups stand out for fatal crashes. In 2018, 25 percent of the distracted drivers involved in crashes were young adults between 20 and 29. However, narrowing it down further, in fatal crashes involving distracted driving, the drivers aged 15 to 19 were more likely to be distracted. In the same year, nine percent of teens who died in motor vehicle accidents were killed in distracted driving crashes.
Age is not the only factor determining who is at the most significant risk of being a distracted driver. As mentioned above, cell phones have drastically changed the landscape. The NHTSA states that one in four car crashes is estimated to involve a mobile device. Further, 70 percent of drivers reported using a cell phone while driving, despite knowing they have an increased risk of causing a crash.
Therefore, drivers of any age using cell phones, whether by sending text messages, checking social media, or participating in video conference calls, are a significant hazard on our roads today.
Ways to Stop Distracted Driving Crashes
Around the United States, each state governs its roads. Therefore, the driving rules and state laws vary. Many states have taken steps to help prevent distracted driving, including making state laws prohibiting texting and handheld cell phone use while driving. Still, it is unclear how effective the measures are. Therefore, everyone must stay aware and cautious while driving to help save lives.
Here are some traffic safety reminders to help keep you from distracted driving:
- If you can’t devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, you are distracted driving. Take care of the activity before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
- Do not let cell phones or other electronic devices distract you. Have a cell phone nearby in case of an emergency, but put it on a setting to alert your callers that you will return the call or text message after your drive. If you are using a GPS, have it opened before you start the car.
- For parents needing help teaching young drivers how to avoid distracted driving, the CDC offers support and traffic safety facts through the Parents are the Key to Safe Teen Driving program.
- Pets roaming freely in a motor vehicle can also cause you to be a distracted driver. It is best to have a secure place for a pet to sit while the motor vehicle is moving.
- Try not to eat while driving. If you need a snack, make sure it is easily within reach on your passenger seat.
- Put on make-up before you leave home.
- If a young child needs to be attended to, pull your motor vehicle off the road to a safe location.
- Let passengers assist you with things that could cause driver distractions. They can change the radio station or respond to a text message for you.
- Get to know the traffic safety legislation and state laws in the particular state where you are driving.
It is everyone’s job to make our roads safer. By understanding the traffic safety facts about distracted driving and following some of these simple tips, you can help eliminate distracted driving crashes from our roadways and save lives.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to a distracted driver, hiring an experienced attorney can make a big difference when it comes to recovering damages for any pain or suffering you have incurred. At The Cochran Firm Texas, we are here to help. Contact us online, via live chat, or call 1-800-THE-FIRM (800-843-3476) for more information or to discuss your possible legal options.