We’ve all seen it: People engaged in secondary tasks while driving on our country’s public roads and highways. Distracted drivers are a leading cause of vehicle crashes, and the situation is only getting worse.
What are distracted drivers doing on the road?
The list of distractions that afflict certain drivers include, but are not limited to:
- Operating a cell phone
- Applying makeup
Distracted driving statistics
Does it really run a risk to take a few seconds to dial a friend’s phone number while on the road? The answer is yes. Studies conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demonstrate a direct relationship between driver inattention and automobile accidents. Just glancing away from the road for more than two seconds can increase your risk of a crash or near-crash at least twofold. Engaging in more complex visual or manual tasks while driving can raise your crash risk even higher.
- In 2019, 3,142 motorists were killed in accidents involving distracted drivers. This represents a 9.9-percent increase from 2,858 in 2018.
- Distracted driving causes about 280,000 injuries per year
- Distracted driving causes about 920,000 total accidents per year (including fatalities and injuries). The trend is growing, as there were 938,000 accidents in 2018, 912,000 accidents in 2017, and 905,000 accidents in 2016.
Please note that not every glance away from the road ahead is dangerous. Quick looks into the rear or side-view mirrors to check for approaching vehicles can actually decrease your risk of a crash. The driver who periodically scans their surroundings is a safer driver.
Is distracted driving as dangerous as drunk driving?
Drivers have been primping, smoking, and eating behind the wheel for over a century. Why the renewed focus on inattentive drivers? Within the last two decades, cell phone use has increased to about 470 million wireless subscribers in the United States. Many of whom regularly use their cell phones while on the road. Teenage and young adult drivers are especially tethered to their devices, increasing their risk of accidents. A recent University of Utah report declared that the impairment level for persons driving while talking on cell phones is comparable to that of motorists driving while intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit.
One may believe that once the phone number is dialed and the eyes are securely on the road, it will be smooth sailing moving forward. Unfortunately, the mental concentration needed to listen and formulate verbal responses can be too absorbing to devote enough focus to the road. This is why multiple states, including Virginia, have forbidden the use of handheld cellular devices while driving.
Of course, it is not only cell phone conversations that put motorists and others at risk. When a driver is drawn into conversation with their passengers, for example, their ability to react quickly to trouble on the roadway ahead is also impaired. They are likely to brake more slowly and follow other vehicles too closely.
Never decide whether or not to engage in any distracting activity, based on what you perceive to be its level of danger. Remember that a few seconds of driver inattention for whatever reason can lead just as easily to a collision with a tractor-trailer as it can lead to a crash with a Dodge Neon. It simply depends on which vehicle is in your vicinity at the moment you become distracted.
If you have been injured in an auto accident through the negligence of an inattentive driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The distracted driving attorneys at Allen & Allen are happy to provide a free consultation. Call today at 866-388-1307.
In the meantime, stay safe and watch the road!