Distracted Driving – The Very Real Dangers

It only takes a moment – looking at an infant or child in a rear sear carrier, reaching to take that CD out of the player, looking at the car’s navigation system, reaching for a dropped french fry, or answering the cell phone. All of this is known as distracted driving and it causes a significant number of car accidents that result in injuries and fatalities. Each year, injury attorneys represent thousands of people affected by the results of distracted drivers – a number that is unfortunately rising according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC.1

Leading Causes of Distracted Driving

There are laws in some states that prohibit doing things like talking on the phone while driving to help prevent accidents caused by distraction. Injury attorneys deal with numerous cases related to distracted driving resulting from cellphone use, texting, and other distractions that ignore such rules being in place. Driving distractions that lead to injurious or even fatal accidents include: 

  • Talking on a cellphone or texting
  • Distractions from passengers
  • Looking at a navigation system
  • Eating and drinking
  • Adjusting electronic music devices

Safe driving is interrupted by all of these activities that take visual, cognitive, and manual attention away from where it should be, Texting requires all three activities and is the most dangerous, distracting activity that should definitely be avoided while driving.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The above referenced CDC study1 and data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Associationprovide staggering statistics about distracted driving:

  • At least 9 people are killed in the U.S. every day from accidents related to distracted driving.
  • In 2011, there were 3,331 deaths and 387,000 people injured in accidents caused by distracted driving.
  • In the above scenario, 12% of the distraction-related deaths were due to cell phone usage.
  • Drivers that were 15 to 19 years old in the above group accounted for 21% of drivers distracted by using cell phones prior to the accident.

Injury attorneys advise that these facts demonstrate how dangerous any kind of distracted driving – especially texting – is while driving.

Legislation Concerning Cell Phone Usage While Driving

There is a recent surge in the enactment of laws prohibiting or restricting cell phone use and punishment associate with violation of these laws or ordinances. Federal employees in 2009 and commercial vehicle operators in 2010 were prohibited from texting while driving. Texas is one of 7 states that does not prohibit all drivers from texting while driving. However, the use of cell phones while driving is prohibited in Texas when: in school zones; when the driver is under 18 years of age; driving a school bus with children on board; and driving with 6 months or less on a learner’s permit. 

Attorneys who help clients recover from distracted driving-related injuries know that anyone driving a car should refrain from texting, making phone calls, or other distracting activities. It takes a driver’s full attention to arrive safely at the planned destination. If calls or texts must be made, pull over to a safe spot and handle that message there – it’s the safest thing to do.  

1CDC Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety: Motor Vehicle Safety Distracted Driving 2011
2National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – Distracted Driving 2011

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