Distracted drivers are quietly causing a staggering amount of serious car accidents. In fact, driver distractions are the leading cause of most auto accidents. As experienced car accident lawyers in San Diego, we have handled plenty of automobile accidents that were caused by driver distractions or driver inattentiveness. Here are some common driver distractions:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Sending text messages
- Reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle
- Looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle
- Reading a book
- Eating food
- Applying makeup.
Distracted Driving Takes Your Eyes Off the RoadIn order to safely drive a car, you must give the road your full attention. Drivers that divert their awareness -- whether it's to talk on their cell phone or send text messages to their friends -- risk the lives of the other drivers on the road. Distracted driving is especially dangerous because, whereas drunk driving usually occurs at night, automobile accidents caused by distracted drivers can all day. It's a scary thought. When you think about your actions in a car, other than just driving, you can see that they often involve more than one type of distraction. For instance, if you change your radio station, not only do you take your hand off the steering wheel to press a button, but you also take your eyes off the road to look at what button you want to press. Also, drivers who engage more frequently in distracted driving are more likely to be involved in a automobile accident or near-crash.
Distracted Drivers on Cell PhonesStudies have also shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell phone conversations. The researchers at the NHTSA and Virginia Tech even came up with exact car accident statistics on the matter:
- Dialing a cell phone increased the risk of a car accident or near car accident 2.8 times.
- Talking on a cell phone increased the risk of a car accident or near car accident 1.3 times.
Sending Text Messages While Driving Is DangerousText messaging is a relatively new form of communication, so there are not many laws in effect that are designed to prevent it from causing car accidents. The NHTSA and Virginia Tech study concluded that text messaging on a cell phone was associated with the highest risk of all cell phone related tasks. In fact, text messaging increases the risk of a car accident or near car accident 23.2 times when compared to the car accident statistics with non-distracted driver. The researchers even goes as far as to say that texting while driving has the potential to create a true crash epidemic if texting continues to grow in popularity and as the generation of frequent text message senders reach driving age in large numbers.
Distracted Driving Affects Teen Drivers MoreResearch has shown that teens tend to engage in cell phone tasks much more frequently, namely text messaging, in riskier situations than adults. The NHTSA and Virginia Tech study indicates that teens are four times more likely to get into a distracted driver-related car crash or near-crash event than their adult counterparts. Factor in teenage inexperience and you're left with a dangerous and live-threatening situation when distracted teens are driving. Another major type of distraction is eating in your car while driving; you are focusing on your food and not on the road. Not only is chewing and swallowing taking place, but you are also opening packages, unwrapping and re-wrapping food, reaching, leaning, spilling, wiping and cleaning yourself or your car. These are quite a number of car distractions for one driver on one trip, not mention that reaching for an object increases the risk of a car accident or near car accident 1.4 times.
Prevent Auto Accidents By Putting Down the DistractionsBased on the study, researchers recommend the following safe-driving tactics to prevent car accidents caused by distracted drivers:
- Text messaging and cell phone dialing should always be avoided by drivers.
- Text messaging should be banned in moving vehicles for all drivers.
- All cell phone use should be banned for newly licensed teen drivers.