The Deadly Dangers of Distracted Driving – How To Avoid Them

Millions of drivers are on U.S. roads and highways every day; all of them must remain alert to arrive at their destination safely . An unfortunate reality is that auto accidents happen but are often avoidable. Attorneys who handle auto accident claims see many cases where the main cause of the accident is distracted driving. Distracted driving is common; however, it is the opinion of lawyers who help clients recover from auto accidents that this type of accident can be easily prevented.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Personal injury or auto accident attorneys say there are many forms of distraction that reduce a driver’s effectiveness. Distractions include anything that draws a driver’s attention away from the road and surrounding vehicles and makes an accident more likely to happen. Common distractions include: texting while driving; talking on the phone with or without speaker or headset options; eating or drinking; adjusting a car stereo system; listening to very loud music; looking at a GPS map; and many other similar actions. Lawyers who help clients recover from auto accidents advise that all of these items distract a driver’s attention from the road and create dangerous conditions such as reduced reaction time and a general unawareness of hazards.

What Do Statistics Report About Distracted Driving?

Attorneys who help the victims of auto accidents advise that texting while driving and any other use of a phone or electronic device causes a majority of the distracted driving traffic accidents. This is of great concern when trying to prevent accidents. Recent statistics involving distracted drivers show that 3,331 fatalities, and over 300,000 traffic accidents resulting in other injuries, were caused in 2011 by distracted driving. This accounts for 10 percent of all fatality crashes and 17 percent of all injury-related crashes for that year.1 12 percent of the reported accidents involved cell phone use.

Lawyers who specialize in the handling of auto accidents report that the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving increased from 2010 to 2011, with as many as 660,000 drivers speaking on or using cellphones at any given moment in the United States.2

How Can We Prevent Distractions While Driving?

Driving appears easy; however, staying safe requires complete driver attention. Personal injury lawyers report study results that show the human brain can only handle so many different tasks at one time.3 When presented with multiple stimuli such as listening to music and using a cell phone, the human brain divides its attention between the different tasks which reduces the effectiveness of each activity. Accidents happen when reaction time is reduced due to distractions.3

Safety organizations, health professionals, and attorneys who handle auto accident claims all agree that the key to preventing a high percentage of auto accident injuries and fatalities is to reduce distractions. This is best accomplished by turning off cell phones when driving. If phone use is needed while in transit, a driver should pull off the road. Then the device can be safely used for calls, texting, and other reasons. Other distractions such as eating and drinking should also be avoided. It is important to avoid any activity that compromises attention or which keeps drivers from devoting their full attention to the roadway. This is the best way to travel safely and be able to react to changing road conditions – it will save lives.3

Lawyers who handle auto accidents point out that: 37 states plus Washington D.C. have laws against new or teen drivers using cell phones; 20 state as well as Washington D.C. ban school bus drivers from using cell phones; 14 states plus Washington D.C. ban all drivers from using cell phones; and 44 states as well as Washington D.C. prohibit all drivers from texting while driving.4 Drivers must learn that it is essential to put down the cell phone, reduce other distractions as much as possible, and simply drive. That next call or text can wait until you safely arrival at your final destination!

1 NHTSA Summary of Statistical Findings – Distracted Driving 2011

2 NHTSA Summary of Statistical Findings – Driver Electronic Device Use 2011

NTSB Safety Compass: Disconnect From Deadly Distractions

NCSL: Cellular Phone Use and Texting While Driving Laws, 3/11/15

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