Distracted driving is defined as any activity that has the potential to divert a person’s attention away from their primary task of driving. Some of the activities most commonly associated with distraction are things like texting, using cell phones or smartphones, eating, grooming, using navigation systems, adjusting the radio, and even talking to passengers. Whatever the distraction may be, one thing is certain, any activity that takes your focus away from the road as a driver is a not only a threat to you, it endangers passengers and bystanders as well.
Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of how dangerous distracted driving can be; according to Distraction.Gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, this is a problem that injures half a million people every year. Because of the difficulties inherent in identifying distracted-related causation factors, it’s hard to know for sure how many additional accidents might actually have roots in distracted driving. As car accident lawyers, we believe that the best way to prevent accidents in the first place is to get educated on the issues. Below are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about distracted driving.
Who Are the Most Serious Offenders?
Roughly 16% of all distracted driving accidents involve drivers under 20 years of age, but they are certainly not alone. While it can be said that young drivers are more seriously affected by distraction due to their lack of experience, the statistics lead us to believe that it is not so black and white. If anything, older drivers may be just as seriously affected by distraction due to their lack of experience with technology. The bottom line is no matter how old you are, you are at risk, and you need to take proper precautions to keep your focus on the road.
What is the Most Dangerous Form of Distraction?
Any type of distraction is dangerous, but because of the fact that text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention, it is by far the most serious threat to the safety of drivers and passengers on the road. In one study, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting takes the average driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds; enough to drive the length of a football field completely blind when traveling at 55 miles per hour.
Are Hands-Free Devices Safer?
Most research indicates that hands-free phone conversations still produce cognitive distractions that are substantial enough for a driver to miss important visual and audio cues on the road. Even though it’s not illegal in many states, it seems clear that hands-free devices aren’t actually all that much safer than using a hand-held phone.
What are the Illinois Laws on Cellphone Use While Driving?
By law, it is illegal for a driver to use a hand-held cellphone while operating a vehicle in the state of Illinois; this includes reading and sending text messages, as using smartphone Internet features. Cellphone use is permitted only if the driver is using a hands-free device. Individuals who violate this law risk paying a fine and having a moving violation put on their driving record. (NHTSA; Illinois Secretary of State)
Distraction is a form of negligent and reckless driving. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a distracted driver, take action early to determine if you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to hold wrongdoers accountable. Call our attorneys now to discuss what legal options may be available to you.