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Distracted Driving Accidents

car accidentDistracted driving is growing problem in both Chicago and around the country. Each day eight people are killed and over 1,000 are injured in crashes involving distracting driving. Distracted driving is doing any activity that may take a driver’s attention from their main focus of driving their vehicle. Activities like texting, talking on a cell phone, answering emails, or even interacting with passengers in the vehicle can distract a driver causing a serious car accident. Some people have even reported reading a book or doing their makeup while driving. Looking away from the road for only seconds can result in injury or even death.

There are three types of distraction: manual, visual, and cognitive
  • Manual: When something causes one to move their hands away from the wheel
  • Visual: When something causes your eyes to focus away from the road
  • Cognitive: When something causes your mind to wander away from the task of driving

Cellphone use while driving poses one of the largest risks to motorists and pedestrians as it involves all three types of distractions. Ninety-four percent of Americans report owning a cell phone, with 64 percent of those owning smartphones. Those who use a cell phone while driving are four times as likely to be in an accident while texting and driving makes the risk eight times as likely.

Distracted driving poses the biggest threat with new and inexperienced drivers. Drivers under 20 have the highest percentage of individuals who were distracted at the time of a crash. A report conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released in 2015 found that in 60 percent of moderate to severe teen crashes distractions were a common factor. While 38 percent of drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes were in their 20s. But, young drivers are only part of the problem. Although almost 90 percent of Americans believe that cell phone use while driving poses a serious threat to safety, according to the National Occupant Use Survey in 2011 at any given moment 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices. With cell phone use and smartphone purchases on the rise these numbers are likely to continue climbing.

Drivers are not the only ones at risk. In busy cities pedestrians and bikers can fall victim to distracted driving just as easily. The number of pedestrian victims has increased 50 percent and biker victims has increased 30 percent from 2005 to 2010 and these numbers continue to rise. These accidents tend to occur in metropolitan areas and at nighttime.

State and national governments as well as cell phone and insurance providers have taken serious steps to combat this endemic with advertising campaigns, education programs, and laws geared towards discouraging distracted driving. Illinois has joined 45 other states that have made texting and driving illegal. Illinois is a leader in the distracted driving fight adopting more restrictive laws than what is recommended by the AAA.
  • banned texting and the use of handheld devices while driving for all ages
  • banned use of hand free device for novice drivers (those under age 19)
  • limits on passenger numbers for novice drivers
  • banned the use of cellphones in any manner while driving in a construction or school zone

Even with this progress distracted driving still poses a dangerous problem in Chicago, as people continue to ignore the law. In 2014 there were 37,000 citations in our state for illegal cellphone use while driving.  

Safety Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving

It is no wonder distracted driving is such an issue. Technology has never been more accessible and the average person is juggling countless responsibilities in our go-go-go society. It is easy to be tempted to type out a quick email response in between traffic lights, or try and squeeze in a meal while on the way to our next obligation. But a task checked off a to-do list is never worth the risk of endangering someone’s life.

  • Turn off cell phones or other devices while driving
  • Create a calm driving environment - avoid loud music, rowdy passengers, and serious discussions
  • Exercise extra caution in pedestrian-heavy areas
  • Avoid driving when tired or drowsy
  • Plan your route ahead of time to avoid map/GPS distractions
  • Secure loose items
  • Pull over if there is something that demands your attention
  • Be a defensive driver - take note if drivers around you seem distracted
  • Use sidewalks when available. If not available, walk on the shoulder facing traffic.
  • Use crosswalks when available. If not available, try to find an intersection or well lit area before crossing.
  • Always remain alert
  • Avoid dark areas
  • Wear noticeable clothing
Tragically, in 2014 alone the NHTSA reported more than 3,000 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of this growing trend you may be entitled to relief. Car accidents can be devastating, and even more so when your loss is caused by someone’s careless and reckless behavior.

The Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. specialize in assisting those suffering from a personal injury. We have experience representing the victims of car accidents in obtaining recovery from negligent drivers, especially those drivers who willfully disobey traffic laws specifically designed for their safety and the safety of their community. If you or a loved one have been injured in a crash involving a distracted driver, contact Abels & Annes P.C. at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or 312-924-7575 to set up a free and confidential consultation, or contact us online today. 
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