Vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving injures hundreds of thousands and claim the lives of more than 3,000 people each year in the United States, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Talking on a cell phone, texting, using a navigation system, and even changing the radio are distracted driving behaviors that can have serious consequences. It’s important to understand what makes distracted driving is so dangerous and what to do if you’re injured in an accident by a distracted driver.
What Is Distracted Driving?
You may think of cell phone use as distracted driving; however, distracted driving can actually be any behavior or activity that takes the driver's attention away from the task at hand: safely piloting the vehicle. Driver distractions can be divided into three common types: visual distractions that cause you to take your eyes off the road; manual distractions that cause you to take your hands off the wheel; and cognitive distractions that take your mental focus off of driving. Common distractions can include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone, even with a hands-free device
- Eating or drinking
- Reading maps or using a navigation system
- Talking to passengers
- Personal grooming (such as doing your hair or makeup)
- Listening to, or changing, music or audio books
While all distracted driving behaviors can endanger drivers, passengers, and bystanders, texting while driving is considered particularly dangerous because it’s a combination of all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Statistics on distracted driving can provide insight into the severity of the problem, including the increased associated risks, the number of injuries and fatalities, and which demographics are more likely to drive distracted. Raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving is a key step in its prevention. Here are some key statistics about this dangerous driving behavior:
- Accidents involving distracted drivers injured approximately 400,000 and killed more than 3,150 people in 2013.
- Drivers in their 20s account for 27 percent of distracted drivers in fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- The largest proportion of distracted drivers comes from the under-20 age group; 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident.
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) research found that reaching for a phone, dialing, and texting tripled the risk of getting into an accident.
- The VTTI also found that using hands-free phone devices while driving was not significantly safer than using hand-held phones.
- Of all vehicle accidents in 2011, nearly one in five (17 percent) accidents that resulted in injury involved a distracted driver.
Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
Many people who drive distracted don't think their behavior is particularly dangerous. Because it takes just seconds to change the radio station, answer a call, or text, most people are confident in their ability to multitask. However, the brain is not designed to perform multiple tasks at once. When you multitask, your brain is actually rapidly switching focus from one task to another. Switching focus from driving to eating or talking on the phone leaves you vulnerable and increases the likelihood that you'll be involved in a serious accident.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
Even if you're a safe, conscientious driver, you can't control the behavior of other drivers who share the road with you. If you or someone you love suffered injuries in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to pursue compensation for damages. The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at the Inland Empire Law Group have extensive experience handling cases just like yours and can help you receive the compensation you may deserve. Contact us today for an evaluation of your case.