As newer car models continue the trend towards electronic device integration, it can seem as though we’re almost encouraged to engage in distracted driving. Car manufacturers deliberately develop automobile software with social media and smartphone connectivity. And though it may be nice to be able to lock your doors or send out a tweet while on the road, the results can be disastrous.
Admit it, you’ve reached for your phone behind the wheel before. Maybe you’ve sent a text message to your partner, letting them know you’re headed home. Or perhaps your mother called with urgent news about something that turned out to be not so urgent. We make plenty of excuses for distracted driving. We may even buy the latest and greatest Bluetooth device to legally talk and drive.
The bottom line is distracted driving is dangerous. In fact, distracted driving is responsible for nearly 30% of all vehicle crashes.
If we’re fortunate, the most a distracted driving incident could cost us is a close call or a fender bender. The harsh reality is it may cost someone their life. In September of 2014, a teen driver was sentenced to one year in prison for criminally negligent homicide. His distractions behind the wheel caused the death of a young mother of two.
Texting and Driving
Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it requires engagement on three levels: visually, manually and cognitively. After you receive a text, you have to think of a response, then type it in with your eyes on your smartphone the entire time. In this scenario, your eyes wander from the road for at least 5 seconds. May not seem like a lot, but it’s long enough to cause an accident.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Numerous transportation and public health authorities have conducted studies on the dangers of distracted driving. The following provides a glimpse into its widespread impact:
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,000 people were killed and almost 400,000 injured by distracted drivers.
- 1 in 5 auto accidents in the United States is caused by a distracted driver.
- The National Safety Council found 28% of car crashes are caused by texting and cell phone use alone.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found drivers are 23 times more likely to crash if they send a text while driving.
Distracted Driving Dangers
Ultimately, anything that takes your focus away from the task of driving is considered a distraction. Many of us know distracted driving is dangerous, but often we dismiss the gravity of its consequences. Often it’s only when we are personally touched by tragedy that we take action to make positive changes.
AAA conducted a study on distracted driving, which found that as distractions increase, the brain’s reaction time slows. As a result, drivers scan the road less frequently. This can cause them to miss visual cues, a car abruptly braking in front of them, for instance – ultimately ending in a crash.
Before creating their DriveMode safety app, AT&T launched a study to understand why so many of us give in to distractions behind the wheel. This study revealed people let themselves be distracted for three reasons:
- Social media addiction makes using a smartphone while driving impossible to resist.
- The fear of missing something important.
- The prevailing belief that they can successfully look at their phone and continue driving.
Ways to End Distracted Driving
The surest solution to distracted driving is to focus solely on your commute every time you’re in the car. Other ways to prevent distracted driving include:
- Begin your day fully prepared and well rested; drowsy driving is distracted driving too.
- Store possessions in a secure location, such as your trunk, so you’re not tempted to reach for them during the drive.
- Refrain from using any electronic device, even those that are built into the car.
If you have teen drivers at home, you can encourage them by choosing positive driving behaviors. You can also take a distracted driving pledge. For this and more distraction driving awareness tips, visit distraction.gov.
Hit by a Distracted Driver? Here’s What You Can Do
In any accident, the first thing to check is whether or not anyone was injured. If so, seek medical attention immediately. When the police arrive on the scene, describe the accident from your point of view. Remember to exchange names, contact info, and insurance policy details of the other party concerned. Also, write down the make and model of the cars involved.
You can use your smartphone to record photos of any property damage, bodily injuries and also the scene of the accident itself.
Even if you feel fine at the time of the accident, it’s still a good idea to let a doctor give an official injury all-clear. Sometimes injuries, such as soft tissue damage, are not immediately apparent. These same injuries can take months to heal, so be sure you save all your treatment records to better support your claim.
Most insurance policies have strict limitations on what they will pay to individuals for bodily injury and property damage. Insurance adjusters often attempt to reduce even this amount to save their company money. The settlement amount they offer may not be nearly enough to cover the total cost of your injuries.
A car accident attorney can be your best benefit after a collision. They can guide you through the claims process, ensure you receive proper medical care for your injuries and recover compensation for lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.
The state of Texas has more than 80,000 miles of highway. The attorneys at Pierce Skabranek are here to assist you no matter where the road takes you. If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, please contact us today for a free case evaluation.