The statistics are pretty clear, distracted driving is one of the most dangerous hazards on our roads and highways today. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 3,000 people lose their lives every year as a result of distraction-related automobile accidents-or crashes that involve a driver losing focus of their vehicle because of a manual, visual, or cognitive distraction. Despite the dangers posed by distraction, it is one of the most preventable hazards we face, but with the increasing prevalence of hand held technology and on-board computer systems in our cars and trucks, curbing the number of injuries and fatalities will require all of us to do our own part.
While approaches and strategies may vary when it comes to how to reduce the number of annual distraction-related fatalities and injuries, we all can agree that the best place to start is by educating the public. With that in mind, our lawyers have come up with a short list of things that everyone should know about distraction behind the wheel.
Young Drivers Are at the Greatest Risk-Approximately 40% of all American teenagers report that they have been in a vehicle with someone who put them in danger because of being distracted by their cell phone. Studies have shown that drivers under the age of 25 are two to three times more likely to send text messages or e-mails while driving, and the combination of this overconfidence and teens’ relative lack of experience only exacerbates the problem.
Sending and Receiving a Text is Like Driving Blind-According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the act of sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes and attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. To put that into perspective, if you are traveling at 70 miles per hour on a highway, taking your eyes away from your primary task of driving for 4.6 seconds equates to driving well over the length of a football field completely blind.
Distracted Driving Accidents are Drastically Underreported-It is estimated that during 2012 (the most recent year in which data was available) 421,000 people were injured because of an accident involving a distracted driver. That’s an incredible number, and what’s worse, we know that the majority of accidents, injuries and fatalities involving distraction are underreported, and are incorrectly attributed to another factor.
Hands-Free Devices Are NOT Much Safer Than Hand-Held Technology-This is one of the most important misconceptions that public education must dispel. Several studies have shown that headset and hands-free devices make little difference when it comes to traffic accidents, and many states are now adopting laws that reflect this realization. When operating your car, the best thing you can do is just wait to check your phone until after your car is safely in park. (Distraction.Gov)
Since 1992, our attorneys have represented thousands of clients in motor vehicle accident lawsuits, and we know that automobile injuries and fatalities can have a tremendous affect on the lives of everyone involved. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, or if you are the survivor of a loved one who lost their life because of another person’s negligence, call us now to see how our experience can go to work for you and your family.