Why Distracted Drivers Are Making Our Roads So Much More Dangerous
There are many road dangers that can pose an accident risk — such as unforeseen roadblocks, malfunctioning traffic lights, and occasional sun glare. However, there are some hazardous distractions that are within a driver’s control and can be avoided. Here are some of the most common driving distractions to steer clear of.
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1. Cell Phone Use While Driving
Texting and talking or texting while driving, is one of the leading causes of car crashes today. The popularity of smartphones has had some unintended consequences that have negatively affected the safety of our roads. In fact, a large portion of traffic accidents are caused by distracted driving, most commonly because of the use of mobile devices.
Some quick distracted driving from cellphone statistics make this point:
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people were killed by distracted driving in 2017 alone, 8.5 percent of total fatalities for the year.
- Approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in the United States in incidents reported as involving a distracted driver, the CDC reports .
- During daylight hours across America, approximately 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving, the NHTSA reports.
- Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey .
State Laws about Using Cellphones While Driving
Currently, there is no national ban on texting or using a wireless phone while driving, but a number of states have passed laws banning texting or wireless phones or requiring hands-free use of wireless phones while driving.
- 16 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam ban drivers from hand-held device use.
- 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 21 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
- 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam ban texting while driving.
Cell phone use involves the following categories of driver distraction:
- Visual – Taking eyes off the road
- Manual – Taking hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – Paying attention to anything else other than driving
2. Looking Away from the Road
Anything happening in or out of a vehicle, causing the driver to look away, is a distraction — and it does not take much for this to occur. Even disorderly children can be a problem. Five seconds with the eyes away from the road at 55 mph calculates to the length of a football field — which is more than enough time to cause a serious or potentially deadly accident.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has been conducting research into distracted driving for over a decade. During this time, they conducted what they call their “100-Car Study“, which consisted of 109 primary drivers and 132 secondary drivers who for about 1 year; during this time they collected 42,000 hours of data from nearly 2 million miles on the road.
During the same study, they also analyzed 34 semi-trucks that were equipped with a drowsy driver warning system.
These two studies found that 80% of motor vehicle crashes and 65% of near-crashes were caused by some type of distraction or fatigue.
Additionally, they found that 70 to 90 percent of motor vehicle crashes and near-crashes have happened while the driver was not looking at the road, either because they were distracted or because they were falling asleep.
3. Eating and Drinking While Driving
We all have hectic schedules and try to cut corners when it comes to saving time. Often times this means grabbing a bite to eat while we commute to the next thing on our long list of daily to-dos. However, eating and drinking while behind the wheel is something we should all try to avoid.
Eating while driving often involves switching hands, balancing objects, trying to drive with body parts other than your hands, and generally, looking away from the road. Even sipping a cup of coffee requires your attention and for one of your hands to be removed from the steering wheel.
In all, it’s best to save meals and coffee breaks for when you aren’t on the road.
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4.Adjusting Car Controls
Modern cars and assorted motor vehicles come with a variety of features and settings that enhance the driving experience. However, the adjustment of various driving features can distract drivers from the task of keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the steering wheel. While adjustment of the controls for a number of car features is not always a distraction it has the potential to be. For example, most people enjoy listening to music or similar audio entertainment when driving but when it comes to changing out a cd or looking up a specific song on a playlist, the task of interacting with these controls can become a dangerous distraction that can increase the chance of a car accident occurring. The same goes for adjusting car climate control, seat position, mirrors or windows, etc.
5. Conversations With Passengers
It is important to remember that even conversations with passengers can potentially be a distraction for drivers and cause car accidents. This is not the case for all conversations. For example, small talk and general conversation is usually harmless but more impassioned exchanges can be distracting. Arguments with passengers while driving can be very distracting. Dealing with children is a common distracting situation for many drivers. Children that throw tantrums during a drive can cause parents that are driving to take their eyes off of the road.
6. Applying Makeup and Grooming
On their way to engagements, people may try to multitask and groom themselves while driving. This often includes applying makeup while driving but can extend to things like styling hair or even changing clothing. This takes attention away from driving and is considered distracted driving.
Contact a Fort Myers Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact Viles & Beckman, LLC today either by filling out our online contact form or by calling us at (239) 334-3933 for a free case evaluation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to answer all of your questions and ease your concerns.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Viles & Beckman LLC who have a combined experience of nearly 60 years: Marcus Viles, Michael Beckman. The information provided in this article comes from years of experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida along with extensive research.