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.
According to a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), 80 percent of automobile accidents and 65 percent of near-accidents involve at least some form of driver distraction within three seconds of the crash or near-miss. As a result, police everywhere have begun aggressively ticketing people that engage in distracted driving and endanger other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Distracted Driving Takes Your Eyes Off the Road
In 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 Phones
Studies 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.
Cell phone use has become so popular these days that many times we do not realize how often we are utilizing our cell phones. Cell phone use while driving has increased so significantly within the last few years that, at any time during the day, as many as 10 percent of all drivers are using a hand-held or hands-free phone.
The researchers at Virginia Tech caution that a headset or Bluetooth cell phone is not necessarily safer than hand-held cell phone usage. Voice activated systems are, however, less risky if drivers need not take their eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel often or for long periods of time. Our car accident lawyers concur and we believe that an absolute cell phone ban while driving is safer and more practical for everyone on the road.
Sending Text Messages While Driving Is Dangerous
Text 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 More
Research 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 Distractions
Based 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.
Our car accident lawyers will go a step further. We believe that it is best to finish your phone calls before you start driving your car. If your phone rings while you are driving, let your voice mail pick up the call. If you must answer your phone, it is safer to pull over to a safe location and park before using your cell phone. You are also safer when you stop your car to eat or drink. Allow yourself plenty of time to stop, rest from driving and enjoy your meal.
New cell phone laws took effect July 1, 2008 in California. Drivers ages 18 and over may use hands-free devices while driving, but drivers under the age of 18 may not use any type of hand-held or hands-free wireless phone while driving. If everyone followed these few simple rules while driving, tens of thousands of lives would be saved every year.
As car accident lawyers, we would really like to ask the public driving community, is it not worth the effort to make a few changes and save the thousands of lives that are killed in fatal car accidents due to driver distractions?
Call Our Attorneys Now If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver then call us now at 1-858-551-2090 or click here for a FREE consultation with an experienced automobile accident attorney. Since 1992, our San Diego law office has been geared primarily towards auto accident claims. We know how the insurance companies work, so let our insider knowledge help you in your time of need.
Our auto accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you owe nothing until we recover a settlement on your behalf. We look forward to providing good advice to help you make smart decisions about your case.