In an increasingly technological world, mobile phone and electronic gadgets have become dangerous distractions for motorists, causing an epidemic of crashes across the nation.
Too often, motorists focus on cell-phone calls, responding to text messages or resetting a GIS, taking their attention away from the road. People also continue driving while juggling food in one hand, putting on makeup or gawking at car crashes while driving.
Put all of these distractions together and you’ve got the makings of an accident caused by inattention distracted driving.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that nine people lose their lives and 1,060 people are injured every day in crashes caused by distracted driving, according to a Washington Post article. That equates to 44 injuries every hour and a fatal accident every three hours.
nhtsa.gov, a U.S. government website, defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the main task of driving.
The problem is greater for young drivers, according to the agency, with distractions reported as a factor in 10 percent of fatal crashes involving motorists under 20 years of age.
Top Driving Distractions
- Texting: A driver’s hands, eyes and mind are taken off the road for an average of five seconds while sending a text message, which is enough time to travel the length of Kentucky’s football field at Commonwealth Stadium.
- Hands-free phone: Even this activity takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving, making them miss a majority of the surrounding environment.
- Hand-held cell phones: Conversations on cell phones are among the leading causes of distracted-driving crashes because they take the driver’s attention away from observing surrounding traffic.
- Navigation systems: Programming these systems requires the driver to look away from the road to punch in several steps. Drivers are advised to program navigation systems before leaving on a trip.
- Changing the radio or infotainment system: Many auto manufacturers have installed systems that enable the driver to give voice commands, but the motorist must shift their eyes from the road to the dashboard to read emails and text messages.
- Grooming: Putting on makeup, combing or brushing hair and changing clothes require a driver’s full attention and never should be done while behind the wheel.
- Eating and driving: Grabbing a burger and fries on the run is something most people have done many times. But looking down in the bag, picking up food – and then usually dropping some of it – takes hands off the steering wheel, eyes off the road and attention from the primary task.
- Chatting with passengers: Although riders can help a motorist detect a potential crash, drivers who get distracted with conversations don’t put their complete attention on the road.
- Reaching for an object: Picking up an item on the floor or reaching into the back seat diverts the eyes and hands, creating a dangerous situation.
- Looking at something along the road: Whether you’re checking out a vehicle on the roadside, billboard or something else, taking the eyes off the road can lead to a collision, especially if the driver in front stops suddenly. Looking away from the road is a leading cause of rear-end crashes.
Multiple Types of Distraction
The risk of crashing increases by three times when motorists engage in distracting visual-manual tasks such as reaching for a phone, dialing or texting.
The federal government notes three main forms of distraction:
- Visual: Anything that causes a driver to divert their eyes from the road, including looking at text messages, checking email on a built-in dashboard message system or looking down to pick up something from the floorboard.
- Manual: Tasks requiring the driver to take his hands off the wheel, such as a cell phone, typing a text message or eating.
- Cognitive: Activities that take the driver’s mind off the surrounding traffic, including talking to passengers, figuring out where they’re going or daydreaming.
Any activity that involves the motorist’s hands, eyes and attention including sending and receiving text messages, is extremely dangerous.
If you or a loved one are involved in a crash believed to be caused by a distracted driver in Kentucky, Tennessee or Indiana, contact a car accident attorney experienced in investigating car accidents involving distracted drivers. We will review the specifics of your accident and explain your legal rights to seek compensation covering the cost of your injuries, pain and suffering, property damage and lost work time.