In 2016, an estimated 3,450 people lost their lives due to distracted driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research also tells us that a total of 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving car crashes in 2015, and several studies suggest these numbers might be on the rise.
Unfortunately, driver error lives at the heart of most distracted driving accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anything that takes away from the driver’s attention in a visual, manual, or cognitive way should be considered a distraction. The National Safety Council claims that cell phone use, the most common issue associated with distracted driving, causes upwards of 1.6 million car accidents in the U.S. each year. However, this isn’t the only cause of distracted driving crashes.
Read on to find out what causes most distracted driving accidents in the U.S., and discover what you should do if you were in an accident.
Talking on your phone while driving, whether through a handheld device or via Bluetooth, can be exceedingly hazardous. One study, The State Farm Distracted Driving Survey, found that 65% of those surveyed spoke on their phones while behind the wheel, though 84% agreed with laws that prohibited the use of cell phones while driving. Additionally, the National Safety Council found that 24% of all car crashes involved cell phone conversations, including those using hands-free devices.
In fact, the National Safety Council goes so far as to suggest that using a hands-free device is just as dangerous, if not more so, than a hand-held cell phone. The idea is that once the driver’s mind loses focus, it doesn’t matter whether or not your hands are free, you are distracted and can cause an accident. Apparently, when someone speaks on the phone, their mind is roughly 30% less capable of perceiving moving images, which can be a dangerous quality in a driver. To fuel this line of thinking, a study conducted by the University of Utah found that drivers who spoke on the phone were even more likely to get into a crash than those who were intoxicated.
Even though texting while driving remains one of the most hazardous forms of driver distraction, other types of phone use have risen significantly to pose an equal danger. According to the State Farm Survey, more people than ever are using the internet while driving. Drivers are using various phone applications, playing games, running internet searches, and composing emails while driving, The State Farm Survey also found that 29% of drivers admitted to using the internet while driving in 2015, compared to 13% in 2009. The same principle applies to texting. When a driver takes their eyes and attention away from the road, it can cause them to miss certain hazards, traffic signals, and other notable roadway changes.
Cell phone use is a particularly serious problem among younger drivers. Approximately 42% of teenagers have admitted to texting while behind the wheel, though texting and driving is the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, according to researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center. In short, using a phone while driving, whether to text, send an email, or check an app, should always be avoided or it could cause a deadly accident.
Whether you’re turning up the volume, changing the music station, or fiddling with the GPS system, dealing with any vehicle controls while driving can be hazardous. Again, anything that distracts the driver’s attention or senses from the road can be very dangerous and may prevent them from noticing other important road signs and hazards.
Even though the following issues aren’t as common as the others listed, they can still be very distracting for the driver. Some less common distractions include eating while driving, applying makeup, changing clothing, reaching behind or under the seat, or performing some other type of physical task. These physical distractions don’t cause as many accidents as electronic use does, but they are still exceedingly dangerous and should not be treated lightly.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our firm wants to help you pursue justice and compensation. Distracted driving accidents can be catastrophic, resulting in serious injuries, costly damage, or even death. If you or someone you love was harmed and you believe the driver was distracted at the time of the crash, we can help determine whether or not you have a case.
Contact Klein Frank, P.C. to discuss your case with our attorneys.