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.
Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney ASAP
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.