The Epidemic of Distracted Driving
May 3, 2018
In observation of distracted driving awareness month, we’re writing about this major public health concern again. Although the number of injuries and fatalities related to distracted driving was steadily decreasing before 2007, they have been growing ever since. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10 people in the United States die every day in motor vehicle accidents related to distracted driving. It’s time we all take steps to drive responsibly and commit to avoiding becoming distracted behind the wheel of a vehicle or as pedestrians, motorcyclists and/or bicyclists.
At least 1,000 people are injured on a daily basis in these accidents, and the NHTSA is reporting an average of 4,000 deaths per year. There’s no test to give for distracted driving like there is to screen for alcohol or drugs, so the real number of injury and fatality-causing incidents is likely far higher than official data suggests. Additionally, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that one-half of serious motor vehicle crashes involving teenagers are the result of driver distraction.
There’s no doubt that distracted driving has been – and continues to be – a major national problem. Although that’s scary enough on it’s own, there are other concerning facts to consider. The rate of distracted driving incidents is growing at a much faster pace than accidents that are connected to speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or driving drunk. Not only does this indicate that distracted driving is a wide scale problem, but also that it’s sweeping the country at an alarming rate.
Cell phones are one of the biggest hazards for distracted driving. Various mobile telephone and internet companies have joined in the effort to make a positive impact on teen and adult drivers. In one study conducted by AT&T, the company found that on average smartphone users tend to interact with the same 5 people every day (or called their “daily 5”). 85% of participants polled said that if someone in their daily 5 asked them to stop using their phone behind the wheel that they would. Another 70% said they were willing to download mobile applications that block using phone services while driving. These results show that communication and advocating for accountability can both be helpful steps to limit the rate of distracted driving.
Although some mobile phone companies have taken steps to decrease distracted driving, others create various types of hands-free technologies and infoatainment dashboards that tend to make drivers think they’re safe. Infoatainment dashboards are screens that provide various types of information and entertainment, such as navigation, music and more. Often, these dashboards also allow people to project their phone screen on them. Even though these systems are hands-free, it doesn’t mean they don’t distract drivers; the truth is that they do.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has also conducted numerous studies on distracted driving, along with the NHTSA and other government organizations. According to these agencies’ information:
- When a person sends or reads a text while operating a vehicle, they take their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds at a time;
- In 2016, motor vehicles traveled 2.2% miles more, and more drivers and automobiles are on the roads;
- People are three times more likely to get into a crash when they’re performing a manual or visual activity (such as browsing for music or grabbing they’re phones), and:
- At least 11% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are suspected to be related to distracted driving
Together, all the numbers on distracted driving indicate that a greater number of people are performing visual, manual or cognitive tasks while operating their motor vehicles. Not only does this put the distracted driver in serious danger for injuries or death from an accident, but it also puts everyone else around them in danger as well. This not only includes other drivers but also pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. When a person is looking away from the road, taking their mind off the task at hand or taking their hands off the wheel for any reason, their chances for being in a distracted driving related crash increase exponentially.
As more and more teenagers apply for driver’s permits and become licensed every year, it’s critical that parents and caregivers discuss distracted driving (and other dangerous behaviors like driving while drowsy, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, etc.) with them. There are lots of helpful resources out there, many of which include distracted driving pledges that adults and adolescents can take. One particularly effective way to limit the chance of teenagers driving while distracted is to always set a good example. If you’d like to learn more about distracted driving pledges, you can visit the NSC’s campaign website here: https://www.nsc.org/forms/distracteddriving-pledge.
One last thing: don’t forget to talk to your friends and loved ones about distracted driving, and be sure to tell them how much it would mean if they promise to never do it and stay safe behind the wheel. If you have any other questions about a distracted driving-related accident, please contact a representative at our firm.
Allentown Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Helping Represent Victims of Automobile Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, please contact our Allentown car accident lawyers. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.