Distracted driving is a serious issue in the United States. Each day, approximately nine people are killed in fatal crashes involving distracted drivers. More than 1,000 people are injured daily in crashes involving driver inattentiveness.
Top 8 causes of distracted driving are:
- Texting and Driving
- Using Electronic Devices
- Eating While Driving
- Taking Care of Children or Pets
- Grooming While Driving
- Adjusting Vehicle Controls
- Reaching for Devices or Objects
What Causes Distracted Driving?
The three main types of driving distractions are visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions. Individuals who are injured in accidents by distracted drivers suffer great losses. Any activity that distracts you from the primary focus of driving can be a deadly distraction.
However, some causes of distracted driving are more common than others. Let’s look at a few of the distracted driving statistics to see how dangerous driving while distracted can be for drivers of cars and motorcycles on the road.
In 2016, the NHTSA reports that 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in the United States. During 2015, there were an estimated 885,000 distraction-affected crashes, including 265,000 injury crashes. On average, over 416,000 people are injured each year by distracted drivers. The issue has become so serious that the U.S. Department of Transportation has declared April to be Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Why do people drive distracted? Let’s look a little more closely at the causes of distracted driving and the ways we can prevent these accidents from occurring.
1. Texting and Driving
An extremely dangerous form of distracted driving is texting and driving because it encompasses all three types of distractions. When you read or send a text from your mobile phone, you must take your eyes off the road. Your hands are not on the steering wheel, and your mind is on texting instead of driving. While you are looking away from the road, your car can travel the length of a football field in five seconds when traveling at 55 mph in highway traffic. In those five seconds, you could be responsible for taking another person’s life or causing life-altering injuries.
While almost 97 percent of drivers surveyed stated texting and driving was a serious threat, 45 percent of drivers admitted to reading text messages or emails in the past 30 days. Thirty-five percent of respondents admitted to typing or sending a text message within the past 30 days.
2. Using Electronic Devices
Unfortunately, the use of electronic devices is not limited to cell phones. Approximately 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving each day. Texting and driving may be the most common use of an electronic device while driving; however, drivers use other devices such as GPS devices, tablets, and even laptops. Drivers have used Facebook Live, Instagram, and other programs to make videos while driving. The result can be deadly.
3. Eating While Driving
Another common distraction that can cause traffic accidents is eating while driving. Eating and driving can be just as dangerous as texting while driving because this distraction also involves all three types of distractions. Something as simple as eating a hamburger and fries could result in an accident. In many cases, a driver has both hands off the wheel while getting food out of a bag or unwrapping the food. Even allowing other passengers to eat in your car can be dangerous. Your focus may be on handing out food or making sure kids are not spilling drinks and food in the car.
4. Taking Care of Children or Pets
Children may be secured in car seats, but they can still be distracting for a driver. Passengers in the car can be a huge distraction. Even carrying on a conversation demands you pay attention to the person to follow the conversation instead of focusing solely on the road and traffic. Pets in a car can be just as distracting as other passengers, especially if the pets are not secured in a safety restraint.
5. Grooming While Driving
You may see drivers in traffic putting on lipstick or brushing their hair. Some women even leave home with hot rollers or curlers in their hair and take them out while driving. Applying makeup or general grooming is another activity that can keep a driver preoccupied with something other than driving. Grooming is another diversion that involves all three types of distractions, and it is a frequent cause of vehicle crashes.
6. Adjusting Vehicle Controls
Adjusting the air conditioning, radio, seat position, and other vehicle controls while driving is dangerous. Fiddling with your seatbelt and mirror are relatively minor distractions, but adjusting any vehicle controls can result in a distraction-related accident. As you look down to change the radio station or adjust the temperature on the air conditioner, traffic could slow down, causing you to rear-end the vehicle in front of you.
7. Reaching for Devices or Objects
Objects, including cell phones and other electronic devices, can shift and move around the vehicle. When your cell phone or another object falls onto the floor, it is an instinctive reaction to reach for that object. However, this distraction can cause you to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the steering wheel. Taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds can result in a distracted driving accident. Furthermore, stretching to reach for an object could cause you to accidentally turn the steering wheel sharply or press the gas/brake pedal too hard.
Some people refer to being generally distracted as daydreaming or “lost in thought.” Regardless of what you may call it, being generally distracted while operating a motor vehicle can be deadly. Driver inattention is one of the most common reasons for distracted driving accidents. Unfortunately, there are no distracted driving laws that prohibit a person from daydreaming or becoming lost in thought. It is up to each driver to understand the consequences of distracted driving to help avoid a tragic accident. As far back as 2001, the NHTSA recognized that driver inattention was a “major factor in serious traffic crashes.”
Distracted Driving Awareness – How Can Accidents Be Prevented?
There are ways that you can help reduce the risk of being involved in a distracted driving accident. While you may not be able to control other drivers, you can take steps to avoid distractions when you are driving. Below are several suggestions and tips on how to stop distracted driving and improve your traffic safety.
Stop Texting and Driving
Accidents from texting and driving are 100 percent preventable because you never need to text while driving. Distracted driving crashes caused by cell phone use are preventable by simply not using your phone when you drive. A hands-free cell phone is also a viable option. Parents can use a distracted driving app to reduce teen distracted driving. However, research indicates that adult drivers are actually worse than teen drivers when it comes to texting and driving. Therefore, if you cannot turn off your mobile telephone or you cannot resist reaching for the cell phone when driving, you should install a cell phone app to prevent distracted driving. The EverDrive app can help as well; it monitors and rates your driving and provides helpful safety tips.
Put Your Electronic Devices Away
The dangers of distracted driving are high, so put down your electronic device! You should not be using your tablet, camera, or any other portable electronic device while driving. When using a GPS for driving directions, you should program the GPS before you leave for your trip to avoid GPS distracted driving. If you need to adjust the GPS, you should pull over before attempting to reprogram the GPS. Whenever you need to use an electronic device while driving, it is always best to use a hands-free device or find a safe place to pull over.
Eat Before You Drive or Stop the Car
When you are in a hurry, it is tempting to grab breakfast or lunch on the go. Drive-thru restaurants make it extremely convenient for drivers to eat in the car. However, eating while driving is extremely distracting. Therefore, try to eat or have a snack before you leave home or work to avoid eating when driving. If you must grab a quick meal on the road, pull over for the five to ten minutes it takes to eat a sandwich before continuing on your way. If you cannot stop for ten minutes to eat, at the very least pull over for a minute to unwrap the food. This will reduce the extent of the distraction.
Secure Your Children or Pets
A crying baby or child can be extremely distracting. When you place your child in a safety seat, make sure he or she has a favorite toy to soothe and occupy your child during the trip. If your child needs immediate attention, pull over in a safe location to take care of your child. If you are transporting your pet, use a pet carrier to limit distractions while driving. You can also purchase pet harnesses that work with your vehicle’s seat belts to keep your pet secure and safe during road trips.
Give Yourself More Time to Groom at Home
Waking up just ten to fifteen minutes earlier each morning can help you avoid the need to groom or apply makeup while driving. Many people are grooming when driving because they are rushed or running late. Giving yourself a few more minutes during the mornings can avoid this common driver distraction. Scheduling appointments later to give you extra time can also be a way to prevent this driving distraction.
Practice Adjusting Controls Without Looking or Adjust Before Driving
We all adjust vehicle controls while driving. At the very least, we adjust the radio settings and the climate controls while driving. Try to limit distractions caused by adjusting vehicle controls by setting favorite radio stations so that you do not need to look away from the road to change the radio channel. Also, practice changing the climate settings without looking at the controls so that you know exactly how to change the climate controls without looking down. Otherwise, adjust your seat position, mirrors, and other settings before you leave to avoid dangerous distractions while driving.
Secure Your Objects and Resist the Urge to Reach for Them
If you drop something while driving, you should resist the urge to pick it up. Unless it is an emergency, an object can remain where it is until you are in a safe location to stop and retrieve the object. By using a distracted driving app to silence your cell phone while driving, you avoid the temptation to reach for a ringing or buzzing cell phone while driving. You should also secure objects in your vehicle so that they do not move around when the car is in motion. Securing objects in the car can also help prevent additional injuries from flying projectiles if you are in a traffic accident.
Pay Attention (No Daydreaming)
In one study, 61% of the drivers involved in a fatal distracted driving crash were “lost in thought.” However, it can be exceedingly difficult to avoid becoming lost in thought or daydreaming. Allowing your mind to wander means you pay less attention to traffic and the road ahead. Purchasing vehicles with crash avoidance technology can help avoid a distracted driving crash. Unfortunately, this technology is not always able to avoid a crash, and most vehicles are not equipped with crash avoidance technology. Until everyone has a reliable self-driving car, drivers must make a conscious decision to pay attention while driving. It is up to each one of us to take a distracted driving pledge and follow through with our pledge every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
The Consequences of Distracted Driving
A distracted driver who causes a crash can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused by that crash. The consequences of causing a traffic accident include physical, financial, and emotional damages.
If a distracted driver injures you, you might be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries, losses, and damages. You may receive compensation for medical expenses, lost income, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages. Distracted driving accident attorneys help victims recover compensation for their injuries and losses from negligent drivers who allow distractions to injure others.
Contact Acadia Law Group by calling 1-800-653-4600 to request a free consultation with an experienced distracted driving accident attorney. Find out how you can receive compensation from the distracted driver who caused your injuries.
Accidents caused by distracted driving are preventable. By raising awareness of the dangers and causes of these distractions, we can prevent many of these accidents from occurring and make the roads safer for everyone.