Distracted Driving Causes Thousands of Car Accidents

don't text and drive distracted drivingWhen distractions such as phone calls, emails and text messages cause a driver to take their eyes off of the road, it can result in motor vehicle accidents. Distracted Driving is a serious safety issue that causes thousands of accidents every year in the United States.

Operating a motor vehicle requires a driver’s full and undivided attention. Even a brief glance away from the road to answer a phone call or read an email can have devastating results.

Research has shown that sending a text message while traveling at 55mph is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field while blindfolded. Additional studies have found that using a phone or mobile device behind the wheel makes drivers three times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to drivers that are paying attention to the road.

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In this post, we will explore the topic of Distracted Driving, including what it means to be a distracted driver, how dangerous this behavior is, and what can be done to prevent future accidents from occurring.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted Driving means operating a vehicle while your mind, eyes or hands are doing something else. This often means answering a phone call, reading an email or even applying lipstick and watching yourself in the mirror. There are many actions that can cause a driver to become distracted.

The most common forms of driver distraction include:

  • Using a cell phone or other mobile device
  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal grooming, applying lipstick and looking in the rear view mirror
  • Reaching into a different part of the car
  • Adjusting the car radio, CD player or MP3 player
  • Reading a map or GPS device
  • Talking to passengers

Even carrying on a conversation using a Bluetooth or hands-free phone while driving has been proven to be a dangerous distraction. Driving responsibly means keeping your full and undivided attention on the road at all times.

How Serious is the Problem?

distracted driving kills trauma automobile car accidents crash text and drive

 

Unfortunately, as we face increasing social pressure to stay constantly connected to our jobs, friends and family, Distracted Driving has become increasingly common. The most recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that at any given moment in 2014, there were an estimated 587,632 passenger vehicles being driven by people using handheld cell phones.

Unsurprisingly, the growing amount of Distracted Drivers on the road has lead to more accidents and injuries nationwide. The following statistics paint a disturbing picture about the state of driver safety in the U.S:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, 9 people are killed and over 1,000 more are injured every day in car accidents that involve a distracted driver.
  • 3,179 people were fatally injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver in 2014.
  • Distracted Driving accounted for 10% of all motor vehicle fatalities in 2014.

Drivers of all ages have admitted to engaging in some form of distracted driving with alarming frequency. As evidenced by the table below, the number of drivers visibly manipulating hand-held devices behind the wheel has steadily increased since 2005.

Distracted Driving Graph phones and device use causes accidents car crash

source: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812197.pdf

What Can be Done to Prevent Distracted Driving?

Lawmakers throughout the country have already begun to crack down on Distracted Driving by increasing penalties for drivers that take their eyes off of the road.

North Carolina, for example, prohibits all drivers from texting behind the wheel. State law also bans any type of cell phone use while driving for novice drivers, or motorists who have held their driver’s license for less than one year. Both of these are “Primary Laws,” meaning that an Officer can initiate a traffic stop if he or she observes these behaviors.

Many drivers, especially young drivers, continue to disregard these laws. One study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that 25% of teenagers admitted to responding to at least one text message every time they drive, and 20% of teens admitted to carrying on extended, multi-text conversations while driving.

Here are some important steps that we can all take to prevent Distracted Driving:

  • Have a Conversation With Your Kids: If you are the parent of a young driver, talk to them about the importance of keeping their phones in their pocket until they arrive safely at their destination. Teens should understand that driving is a serious responsibility, and distracted driving is irresponsible and dangerous behavior.
  • Be a Good Role Model: If you want young drivers to keep their phones in their pockets, the best way is to lead by example. Remember, even if you are an experienced driver, distracted driving is never safe.
  • Plan Ahead: Set your car’s radio, GPS system and any other distractions before you start your trip. This will minimize the temptation to look away form the road while driving.
  • Your Phone is for Emergencies Only: The only time it is safe to use your cell phone in your car is when you are safely stopped and pulled over to the site of the road. Limit your cell phone use to emergency situations only.
  • Spread the Word: If you are expecting an important call or email, talk to the other person before you leave. Let them know that you will be in the car and will answer as soon as you arrive at your destination. No call, text or email is worth jeopardizing your safety, as well as the safety of the drivers around you.
  • Focus on Driving: If you feel the urge to eat, apply makeup, have a conversation with your passengers or attend to any pets or young children in the vehicle, park your car before doing so. When you are driving, don’t let anything distract you from the task at hand.

Visit Daggett Shuler Law or Distraction.gov to Learn More

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