There is no disputing that distracted driving is extremely dangerous and causes many serious accidents and injuries. With bigger and better technologies coming out, including smartphones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets, it is extremely easy for a driver to become distracted while behind the wheel.
A distracted driver fails to watch the road attentively. When a driver takes their eyes off the road, even for one or two seconds, it can limit their reaction time significantly and prevent them from responding quickly to an emergency situation that arises on the road. As a result, they may inadvertently cause an accident that leaves others injured.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that a distracted driver caused, you have legal options available to you. First, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. If the insurer refuses to compensate you fairly, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for damages in court.
In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment after a distracted driving car accident, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney to represent you throughout the claims filing and litigation processes. Your lawyer can file a claim on your behalf with the appropriate insurance company, negotiate with the settlement adjuster on your behalf, and, if necessary, pursue litigation in the court system.
Your lawyer can help you maximize your damages by highlighting the strengths of your case, downplaying any weaknesses, and aggressively advocating for your legal interests throughout the case.
The Effects of Smartphones on Distracted Driving
Nearly everyone today owns a smartphone and other electronic devices. Smartphones have ever-increasing apps that individuals may download to make their lives easier—and keep themselves informed. Those conveniences include GPS navigation systems, games, movies, and remote meeting capabilities.
In many ways, these new smart devices are both a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing in that they improve people’s lives and offer them many conveniences. However, they are a curse when they distract drivers and divert their attention away from the road.
Notifications on smartphones and other devices are especially problematic concerning motor vehicle operation. Devices frequently vibrate or emit a sound when a user has a notification, such as a text message, email, or telephone call. These notifications often tempt drivers to check their devices immediately—even in heavy traffic. This may cause a driver to look down or turn their head to the side, missing an oncoming vehicle or nearby pedestrian.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is an extremely dangerous activity that causes motor vehicle accidents every day. When a driver gets behind the wheel, they have a duty to watch the road attentively and become fully engaged in their driving. This obviously includes watching the road in front of them and scanning rearview and side view mirrors regularly to check for oncoming vehicles.
According to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), several types of distractions may occur in vehicles. These distractions include cognitive distractions, manual distractions, and visual distractions.
A cognitive distraction causes a person’s mind to wander, preventing them from becoming fully engaged in their driving. On the other hand, a manual distraction causes a driver to take their hands off the steering wheel, such as when they reach for something in the backseat. Finally, a visual distraction causes a driver to take their eyes off the road and look at something else.
One of the worst distractions for drivers is texting. That is because when a driver sends, receives, or reads a text message, they engage in all three types of distracted driving behaviors.
Why Texting and Driving Is so Dangerous
Texting and driving is an extremely dangerous activity and significantly increases a driver’s chances of causing an accident. Statistically, when a driver sends or receives a text message, they must take their eyes off the road for at least five seconds. In those five seconds, many things can happen. A pedestrian can wander into a nearby crosswalk, or a motor vehicle may approach, unbeknownst to the texting driver.
Moreover, when an individual sends a text message while traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour, that is the equivalent of taking their eyes off the road for the entire length of a football field.
Moreover, when an individual sends a text message while driving, their chances of causing a motor vehicle crash increase 23-fold. If they dial a phone number while operating their vehicle, they are three times more likely to cause an accident. Likewise, drivers who talk to someone on a smartphone while driving are 33 percent more likely to cause a motor vehicle accident.
Using a cell phone while driving causes approximately 1.6 million motor vehicle accidents across the country each year. Of those accidents, approximately 390,000 people suffer injuries due to smartphone use while driving. Approximately 25 percent of these accidents result from texting and driving. In fact, texting while driving is even more serious than operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol due to the driver’s lack of focus and concentration.
Texting while driving is also common among teenagers who are well-versed in smartphone technology. Whenever a teen driver texts and drives, they are one-tenth more likely to veer out of their travel lane on a multi-lane highway. Moreover, 94 percent of teenage drivers believe texting while driving is dangerous. However, 35 percent of teenagers admit to violating the law by texting and driving. Finally, approximately 50 percent of teens think they have a problem with smartphone addiction, meaning that they constantly look at their cellular devices—even while driving.
Why Do People Use Smartphones While They Drive?
Whenever a driver gets behind the wheel and texts, they put their own life—and the lives of other drivers and passengers—at serious risk.
There are several reasons why individuals use smartphones while driving. In one sense, smartphones have developed as extensions of individuals. People essentially keep their lives on their smartphones and use them for many essential aspects of daily life. However, when drivers get behind the wheel, they must resist the temptation to constantly look at—and listen to—their smart devices.
Some of the most common reasons individuals use smartphones while driving are to look for directions, scroll social media, reply to messages, find a music playlist, and entertain themselves.
First, many individuals use map apps on their smart devices for directional purposes. Although you can use a GPS navigation app to find your destination, you should not be programming your device while driving—or constantly looking at your phone. If you need to look at the directions or reprogram the phone, you should pull off to the side of the road. You can also use hands-free voice commands as a way of programming directions into your device.
Likewise, some drivers use their smartphones while driving to scroll social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, looking at social media while driving is extremely dangerous because it completely takes a driver’s eyes off the road, potentially causing them to miss a nearby pedestrian or vehicle.
Drivers may also use their phones for text messages and emails. When they receive a notification, they often have the temptation to check their device right away and even send a reply. Again, these activities may take their eyes completely off the road, causing a serious crash.
Drivers also frequently use their smartphones for entertainment, such as listening to music and watching movies. Although listening to music while driving is generally okay, drivers should not increase the music volume to such a level that it becomes distracting. They should also refrain from searching for music selections and playlists while operating their vehicle. Watching movies, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous because of the visual distraction. Drivers should also refrain from playing games on their mobile app devices while driving—and even while stopped at a red traffic light.
Laws Regarding Distracted Driving
Under current laws, drivers may not use handheld electronic communication devices like smartphones while driving their vehicles. If a driver is at least 19 years of age, they may use hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth, to access the features on their mobile devices. However, the law still discourages this practice. That is because even if a driver does not use their hands to dial a number or answer a telephone call, they may still experience a cognitive distraction, diverting their attention away from the road.
In certain limited exceptions, a driver can use a smartphone that does not have hands-free technology. Those exceptions include while they are parked on the shoulder of a road, when reporting an emergency situation, and when a normal roadway obstruction stops traffic—and the vehicle’s gear is either in park or neutral.
New Vehicle Technology
New technologies on vehicles have helped keep distracted driving at bay. Although using an electronic device hands-free is safer, the law still discourages it. However, some technological advances do help to prevent distractions. Those devices include phone safety features, parking assist features, lane departure systems, forward collision warnings, built-in GPS devices, backup cameras, pedestrian detection, lane departure assist, heads-up dashboard displays, cameras in the cabin, and blind spot sensors.
Smartphone technology has also improved to help prevent distracted driving. For example, the new iPhone X will likely include a “do not disturb while driving option.” When a user activates this option and the phone determines that the driver is operating their vehicle, it will mute all incoming notifications. This will help to prevent drivers from becoming distracted while behind the wheel.
Moreover, companies are currently developing various apps that will help protect against distracted driving. When a user activates one or more of these apps, the app will prevent the phone from doing certain activities while the car is in motion.
For example, the lifesaver app prevents text notifications from coming through when a driver is behind the wheel. The “drive safe” app works similarly, and it blocks all incoming text messages and phone calls, allowing a driver to keep their eyes on the road. Moreover, a driver may utilize the emergency mode feature on this app in the event an individual calls several times in a row.
Finally, Drivesafe.ly announces a caller’s name so that you have the opportunity to answer the call hands-free while you operate your vehicle. Moreover, it will read an email or text message aloud if you ask it to do so. A user may also set the app to auto-reply.
All of these features help to keep a driver’s attention on the road and help prevent ongoing distractions and potential car crashes.
Injuries and Damages in a Distracted Driving Accident
Distracted driving can cause very serious accidents, which in turn leave others severely injured. Accident victims may incur mounting medical bills and may need to miss time from work to recover from their injuries.
The injuries that a distracted driving accident victim suffers will depend upon various factors, including the type of accident that occurs. Distracted drivers may cause rear-end collisions, broadside collisions, sideswipe accidents, or head-on crashes. Another factor that determines the extent of an accident victim’s injuries is the force of the collision.
Common car accident injuries include broken bones, traumatic head and brain injuries, cuts, bruises, abrasions, internal organ damage, soft tissue contusions, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis.
Distracted driving is a common cause of car accident injuries that can be avoided by taking simple steps
We all know that distracted driving is dangerous. Technology, however, just keeps producing better and better distractions—often in the form of ever-more interactive smartphones and tablets—for today’s drivers. When you hit the road, always make safety your top priority by diligently avoiding distracted driving and by being alert to those distracted drivers with whom you might share the road.
New Technology Has Changed the Way We Live Our Lives
Smartphones and the ever-growing list of apps available on them have changed the way we live our lives. In some cases, technology has changed things for the better. In other cases, technology has made our lives more dangerous.
One of the reasons that new technologies have made our lives more dangerous is the number of distracted drivers on the road.
Just about everyone has a smartphone. And we are using them for nearly everything. For those of us that can’t find our own driveway sometimes, GPS apps are a lifesaver. Introverts have found the ability to read on their phone in place of small talk a source of comfort. Gamers can finally leave the house but bring with them their entertainment. And workaholics can check their email, send documents, and engage in meetings on the go.
This ability to do anything at any time is both a blessing and a curse. It has changed the way we live our lives for better or worse. But one area that is unquestionably worse is the number of people who think it is okay to operate a multiple ton steel machine without looking at where they are going.
The fact is, our phones and other technology tools are only going to become a bigger part of our lives. But our willingness to use them while driving needs to be dropped from our list of new habits or else we will see a huge increase in car accidents in our collective future.
Why Distracted Driving is a Dangerous Habit
A distracted driver cannot pay full attention to the driving task at hand. Dangerous situations on the road can arise in the blink of an eye, and if drivers are not fully engaged, the results can be tragic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that distracted drivers allow their attention to become engaged in any activity other than driving. The NHTSA divides these distractions into:
- Visual distractions – Visual distractions require us to look at them.
- Manual distractions – Manual distractions require the use of our hands.
- Cognitive distractions – Cognitive distractions require us to use our minds.
Texting represents the mother of all distractions because it engages all three distraction classifications at once. In fact, texting while driving is considered the most dangerous form of distracted driving. Technology, therefore, has significantly contributed to distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Statistics: Why You Shouldn’t Text and Drive
The sobering statistics associated with texting and driving are worth noting:
- When drivers text, their attention veers away from the road for at least five seconds.
- If a person is traveling at 55 miles per hour while they text, their attention is off the road for the full length of a football field.
- When someone texts and drives, their odds of being involved in a car accident are multiplied by 23.
- When they dial while driving, their odds of being involved in a car crash multiply by three.
- If a driver chats on a smartphone while they drive, their odds of being involved in a car accident are elevated by about a third.
- Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
- 390,000 people are injured each year due to using a phone while driving.
- 1 out of 4 accidents in the U.S. are caused by texting and driving.
- 94% of drivers support a ban on texting while driving.
- 1 out of 20 drivers are on their phone right now.
- Texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol. You are 6 times more likely to be in a motor vehicle crash while texting and driving versus being intoxicated.
- 3,477 people died in 2015 because of texting or talking on the phone while driving.
- Different states have different fees for texting while driving, with the low being only $25 (Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico) and the high being $750 (Utah). Some states, like Arizona and Minnesota, still don’t have a ban on texting and driving.
Statistics on Teenage Distracted Driving
- Teenagers who mix texting and driving veer out of their own lane about a tenth of the time.
- 94% of teen drivers acknowledge that texting while driving is dangerous. But 35% admit to doing it anyway.
- 50% of teenagers believe that they have a smartphone addiction problem. 72% of teens feel pressured to respond right away to texts they receive, even if they are driving.
These statistics are a stark reminder that it’s always best to drive phone-free, because engaging with your smartphone or tablet while driving endangers everyone on the road. Arriving alive should always be your goal, and eliminating distractions while driving can help you get there. This does not mean, however, that you can stop other drivers from using technology while driving—and putting your life at risk.
Why Phones Are So Distracting For Drivers
The meteoric rise of smartphones has left drivers with little time to fully comprehend just how dangerous mixing driving and smartphones can be. In fact, technology has evolved in such a way that smartphones have become so much more than just phones.
Many people have begun to think of their phones as personal extensions of themselves— but this can lead to bad choices when driving is added to the equation. No matter what you are doing, your phone takes your attention away from the road—where it should be. Such distractions make it that much easier to miss the warning signs of impending danger on the road, like crossing pedestrians, hard to see motorcyclists, and other dangerous drivers.
Below are six of the most common reasons people are distracted by technology while driving. And the scary part is, almost all of them require all three types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive.
Looking for Directions
Looking for directions while driving is a common reason for a person to be distracted. Obviously, you may need to use your phone’s GPS app while you’re driving to find your destination. But where the danger comes in is when you type or search for a location while operating your car. If you need to search for directions, find a safe place to pull over and set your GPS before you get back on the road. If you can use hands-free voice commands, that’s one way to keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
Finding Your Favorite Playlist
Finding something to listen to on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Podcasts, or any other platform is a task you should complete before you begin moving. With the increased popularity of long-form podcasts and playlists, changing songs or stations has become less of a problem. But searching for any type of media while driving is extremely dangerous.
Scrolling Social Media
As we all have become more involved with social media for personal and professional uses, checking social media while driving has become more common. The solution to this problem is a no-brainer. Social media is extremely distracting and should never be used while behind the wheel.
Using Phone for Entertainment
With so many different forms of entertainment available, it’s almost like we can’t go 15 minutes without needing to be entertained. With short-form video apps like TikTok and games that can be played in spurts, more people feel comfortable participating in these activities while driving even though it’s extremely dangerous.
Looking Down at Smartwatch
Smartwatches allow wearers to get text and email notifications, read and respond to messages, send reminders, schedule a meeting, answer incoming calls, play music, and set a GPS location—all from their wrist. With so many functions and so many more people adopting wearable technology, it’s clear how smartwatches can be a huge distraction.
Replying Right Now
The pressure to respond to a message right away is definitely something we all battle. We’re always expected to be reachable–by family, friends, or clients. This artificial urgency to respond right away is a major factor in why people decide to use their phone while driving.
Illinois Law and Distracted Driving
Illinois law prohibits the use of handheld electronic communication devices, including smartphones, while operating motor vehicles. If you are 19 or older, you may implement hands-free technology to access your device, but even this is discouraged. Illinois considers hands-free technology a driving distraction that can prove dangerous and encourages drivers who must make calls to pull safely off the road before doing so. There are only three occasions in which it is legal for a driver to use a smartphone that’s not hands-free:
- To report an emergency on the road
- While parked on the roadway’s shoulder
- When traffic is stopped due to a normal roadway obstruction and the vehicle is in either neutral or park
Technology Making Cars Safer
While technology has certainly played a significant role in the rise in distracted driving, it can also help mitigate distracted driving. Hands-free technologies are one such example. Hands-free interaction is considered safer, but phone calls—in and of themselves—are distracting whether hands-free or not. There are, however, other technological advances that can help mitigate distractions, including:
- 360-degree camera
- Adaptive cruise control
- Adaptive headlights
- Automatic braking systems
- Backup cameras
- Blind spot sensors
- Built-in GPS
- Cabin camera
- Forward collision warning
- Heads-up display
- Lane departure warning systems
- Lane keeping assist
- Parking assist
- Pedestrian detection
- Phone safe features
These technological advances, along with other innovations, can help drivers perform important driving functions while helping to keep them on task.
The Evolution of Smartphone Technology
Because smartphones are among the most dangerous distractions for drivers, phone developers are working to address this important issue and mitigate their bad reputations. The new iPhone X, for instance, is poised to include a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, which is an option that drivers can choose and that will help allay the phone’s distraction level.
One complication, however, is that once the safety feature is activated, the phone proceeds to determine when you are driving—and driving is difficult to distinguish from riding. Once the phone does determine that you’re driving, it will automatically mute your phone to distracting notifications. In addition, your favorite contacts will receive an automated I’m driving response if they attempt to contact you while you’re behind the wheel. The distractions of technology aren’t going away anytime soon, but technology can help implement important mechanisms for mitigating these distractions.
Apps that Help Prevent Distracted Driving
There are many apps on the market that are designed to limit drivers from texting while driving. These apps work by preventing your phone from performing certain functions while your car is moving.
LifeSaver blocks text notifications while you drive and disables other features (like access to email and camera) while your car is in motion.
Drive Safe works in a similar way, blocking all calls and texts so you can stay focused on driving. This app has some great extra features like ‘emergency mode,’ which allows a call to come through if you’re called multiple times in a row.
Drivesafe.ly doesn’t block calls or texts. Instead, it announces callers by name so you can answer hands-free. It also reads text messages and emails aloud if you ask it to. It can also be set to auto-reply. That way, the caller or texter gets an automated message saying you’re driving and will call them back shortly.
In addition to these apps, most new phones are starting to come with these features built-in. These kinds of features are going to be critical in the future as new technologies are only increasing the number of ways we can find ourselves distracted behind the wheel.
Call a Knowledgeable Car Accident Attorney Today
If a distracted driver’s negligence caused injury to you or someone you care about, you don’t have to face this difficult time alone. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes are here to help. We handle the entire injury claim process. From negotiating with claims adjusters to rejecting any lowball offers, our main goal is to advocate for you to get a fair settlement amount.
We have the skill, knowledge, and dedication to help you navigate the often-confusing path toward just compensation. Your case and your rights are too important to leave to chance. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, please don’t hesitate to contact or call our office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation today.
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