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Distraction While Driving: A Major Cause of Road Accidents

There are many factors which can lead to distractions while driving. Multitasking is something that many Americans cannot help but do in all facets of life, but we are arguably terrible at it when we mix it with driving. Because driving is a skill which requires our full attention to stay safe, while avoiding the myriad of varying obstacles that we encounter every day on the road.

According to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and CITA, statistics show that distraction while driving is a significant cause of road accidents:

  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured.
  • 16% of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
  • 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
  • In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009.
  • Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported. In 2009, 16% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted.

Additionally, statistics show that distracted driving is incredibly prevalent these days. A recent USA today article summarizes the findings from a Consumer Report survey about young drivers and distraction while driving:

  • 84% saw other young people talking on a handheld phone while driving.
  • 71% say they have seen someone their age texting while behind the wheel.
  • 48% witnessed their mom or dad talking on a handheld phone while driving.
  • 15% witnessed their mom or dad texting while behind the wheel.

These statistics confirm what we probably already understood about the way people behave while driving. The scary part of this is that one of out five of the young drivers indicated that they knew someone who had been in a crash as a result of distraction while driving. One other interesting finding was that young drivers tend to be LESS distracted when they have a friend riding in the vehicle with them. According to the survey, nearly half say they have asked someone to stop using a phone because they feared for their safety, and 74% have reduced or stopped distracting behaviors due to concerns over safety.

The following are the biggest culprits when it comes to distraction while driving:

Texting: Many states now have laws which issue heavy fines to curb the instances of texting while driving. However, the reality is that drivers now often use even riskier methods to hide their texting.

Talking on the Phone: Many people do not consider this to be as dangerous as they should. The distraction lies in the mental ability it takes to have a fully engaged conversation while successfully executing a task that requires all five senses. In fact, according to Carnegie Mellon, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.

Eating/Drinking and Driving: When eating on the road, amazingly, it is your knee that becomes the primary steering instrument. This is a major cause of road accidents because response time and ability to maneuver are severely hampered.

Grooming: With so much to do in the morning, cosmetics and last minute primping can often occur in your vehicle while driving. With your attention on the mirror rather than the road, it is easy to understand why grooming is a leading cause of road accidents each year.

Operating a Navigation System: Many drivers now rely on navigation systems to get to where they’re going; keeping an eye on the device while navigating on the road. This can lead to distraction while driving, especially since confusion over device directions can often occur at busy intersections.

If you have been the victim of an accident involving a distracted driver, request a Free Case Consultation to speak with a lawyer.

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