Distracted Driving Includes Texting, Device Use
The safest way to operate a vehicle is for the driver to focus 100 percent of their attention on the road. Any activity that redirects the driver’s attention away from the task of driving is considered distracted driving. Distracted driving behaviors create risk not only for the driver of the vehicle and its occupants, but for everyone on the road.
Parker Waichman LLP is a national personal injury law firm with decades of experience representing car accident victims. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a lawsuit.
Distracted driving often occurs in the form of mobile device use, such as texting or other activities involving smart phones. However, distracted driving also includes something as simple as reaching for an object. Eating is another example of distracted driving. These behaviors can be dangerous; even if the driver only intends on focusing their attention away from the road for a moment, this is all it takes to get into an accident.
The issue of distracted driving is becoming increasingly relevant, as traffic deaths have spiked in the United States. The National Academy of Sciences conducted an analysis showing that 40 percent of motor vehicle accidents could have been prevented if the driver was not distracted.
Researchers have identified several distracted driving behaviors that frequently cause accidents. Using the car radio, for example, is a very common activity that many drivers may not even consider a distraction. Vehicles have long been equipped with radios, but that does not mean they aren’t distractions. Looking down at the radio for a second to change the station or control the volume is all it takes to cause an accident. Operating the radio can double the risk of crash, researchers have found. When the music is being played through another music device such as an iPod or smartphone, the chances of a collision are even greater.
Reaching for an object is the first action that leads to a distracted driving accident. Even before the driver accesses their phone, coffee cup, or other item, the act of reaching for an object itself can increase the risk of an accident by 9-fold.
Not surprisingly, two dangerous distracted driving behaviors involve phones: texting and dialing a number. The Department of Transportation notes that texting is “by far the most alarming distraction”, since it requires drivers to take both their visual and cognitive focus away from the road. Texting while driving is such a known danger that most states have laws banning this behavior. Despite the known risks of texting behind the wheel, polls suggest that 40 percent of drivers do it regardless. The risk of an accident jumps up 6-fold if a driver texts while driving.
Researchers found that entering 10 or more digits into a phone increases the risk of a crash by 12-fold. Although most modern cars utilize hands-free technology, dialing a number is still a risk. In 2014, 16 percent of all car accidents involved the use of a cell phone.
Many automakers now implement touch-screen menus and navigation to operate the vehicle. While these screens are intended for more usability, the study found that they are often just another distraction that increase the risk of an accident by four times. Some drivers have become very experienced at using touch-screens while driving. However, researchers warn that this may only give a false sense of confidence while engaging in a distracted driving behavior.
Traffic Fatalities on the Rise, Statistics Show
Statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that traffic fatalities are on the rise. There was a 10.4 percent increase in the number of traffic deaths from the first half of 2015 to the first half of 2016. A total of 17,775 people died in a car accident in the first half of 2016 compared to 16,100 during the same period the year prior.
The second quarter of 2016 is the seventh consecutive quarter where traffic deaths have jumped up compared to the same period the previous year.
Additionally, NHTSA reports that 2015 had the largest annual spike in traffic deaths in 50 years. That year, more than 35,000 people died in traffic-related events. Factors contributing to these fatalities include increased driving, driving while intoxicated, speeding and distracted driving.
Legal Help for Car Accident Victims
Parker Waichman has decades of experience representing car accident and other accident victims. If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, you may have valuable legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).