The grim reports also suggest that one in every five individuals killed in accidents involving distracted drivers are pedestrians or those riding their bikes.
Our personal injury attorneys have helped injured victims of car accidents protect their rights and fight to recover compensation for their losses.
From the cases we have had in the past, the reasons for distraction vary across different cases, but some of the most common distractions are as follows:
Talking over the cell phone
Eating and drinking
Adjusting radio or climate control
Visual and auditory distractions
You wouldn’t believe it, but America has a serious epidemic of texting while behind the wheel, which puts the drivers at risk and those around them, other vehicles, and even pedestrians. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 600,000 drivers are using their mobile phones while operating any vehicle at any given moment. This includes cars, motorbikes, fork lifters, among many others.
According to a report published by Virginia Tech, drivers are 20 times more likely to crash due to cell phone use while driving. Another report by DriveSafeOnline suggests that texting while driving affects the driving reaction time and compares it to downing four glasses of beer in a single hour.
A huge cause for concern is the inexperienced teenage drivers who constantly handle their phones while driving, putting everyone at risk. The Automobile Association reports that 35% of teenagers admit to using their cell phones while driving, and 25% admit to replying to at least one text message during their drive.
Eating and drinking are more dangerous than you think and are one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents. According to the NHTSA, in 2018, 8% of fatal car accidents and 15% of injury crashes were due to distracted driving, and eating and drinking are also recognized as driving distractions. Is it, however, common to consume food and beverages while driving?
A huge part of American culture is the fast-food drive-thru, spreading all across the country. Think about it. Many of us purchase coffee in the morning and sip on it while driving to work. Some of us even grab a quick bite on the way to eat to save time on breakfast at home. Eating and drinking behind the wheel are more common than we realize.
The right way to drive is to have both hands on the wheel, but if you’re eating, that’s not possible. Unwrapping fast food items, spreading the sauce and condiments on them, and then consuming them while driving a car can lead to a serious accident.
If you don’t have both your hands on the wheel, chances are you don’t have your eyes on the road too. What happens if some fries fall on your lap? Of course, you’ll have a look at where it fell before you reach out for it. With your eyes off the road, you’re more likely to miss road conditions, important road signs, hazards, or even other drivers, resulting in a fatal car accident.
A road sign takes a lot of viewing space, even with a quick glimpse. Road signs also include warning signs, street signs, and even road markings. If you’re reading a road sign, that means you don’t have your eyes on the road. A report published by DriveSafeOnline states that a car traveling at 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field in just five seconds. That’s a lot!
Imagine this: you’re driving on a highway at maximum speed, and suddenly, you’re reading a warning sign on the side of the road. A sudden brake by the vehicle in front of you will not leave enough time for you to respond and apply your brakes, resulting in a distracted driving accident.
In the United States, some of the road signs can be confusing, especially for inexperienced young drivers. Complex intersections with heavy traffic flow usually have a clutter of road signs for drivers to follow. Many motor vehicle crashes occur at such intersections because of the many road signs.
If you’re not familiar with the intersection, you would want to read the signs and observe the law, but doing that while driving can be extremely dangerous.
What happens when you reach for the radio to change the channel or fiddle with the car’s control panel to manage climate control settings? Reaching out for audio or climate controls is an alarming distraction and takes the driver’s attention off the road, putting the driver and others at risk since there is very little control at the wheel.
By taking one hand off the steering wheel, a driver reduces their reaction time, thus increasing the risk of fatal crashes. Reaching for your phone while driving is 1.4 times more likely to cause an accident, and the same is true for a car radio or climate control. Adjusting the radio or playing around with climate settings can take a bit of time, and the more time your eyes are off the road, the higher the risk of an accident.
If you want to change the radio channels or the climate settings, ask the passenger sitting with you in the car to help you with that. When driving alone, it is best to stop at a safe spot, change the radio settings, and then proceed to drive on the road.
If you’ve ever watched the movie “Are we there yet?”, you must be familiar with the kind of distraction we are talking about. You, as a parent, may not realize the distractions caused by children, but having kids in the back of the car is one of the leading causes of distracted driving.
Whether it is a verbal argument among siblings or a fight, parents are susceptible to solving the problem as soon as possible without realizing that they are actually behind the wheel. They’ll turn for a moment to speak to their children, taking their eyes off the road, which can lead to fatal accidents.
Just like how cellphone usage causes a distraction while on the road, there are visual and auditory distractions that you may encounter while driving. These include advertisement billboards, an attractive person, a luscious tree blossoming, and many more. Turning your head around to read what the colorful billboard is all about or admiring a gorgeous pedestrian puts you at risk of an accident.
These are all auditory distractions, but what about visual distractions? Listening to loud music or a podcast divides a driver’s attention, leading to a reduced reaction time in the event of an accident. Reducing the radio’s volume is best to help you concentrate on the road.
Safe driving is your responsibility and duty of care while on the road. Any breach of that duty of care can result in negligence, and any accident causing harm to someone else creates a case for legal action.
However, if you’re the one injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact us at (213) 596 9642 for a free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorney.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.
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