Causes of Distracted Driving & When to Consider Contacting an Attorney
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With 9 people killed every day in car crashes caused by a distracted driver, distracted driving is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States. In 2016 alone, distracted driving crashes killed 3,450 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and distracted driving plays a role in around 24% of all fatal traffic accidents.
What does distracted driving actually mean? For most people, distracted driving is associated with texting behind the wheel. But while texting and driving is a very real issue—35% of teen drivers admit to texting behind the wheel, according to TeenSafe—there are many other causes of distracted driving besides texting.
Common Causes of Distracted Driver Accidents
Distractions for drivers can be broken into three main groups:
- Visual– A visual distraction is something seemingly innocent and simple, like glancing down to look at a GPS map. Visual distractions do not require a driver to take their hands off the wheel, but do cause them to glance away from the road.
- Manual– A manual distraction causes a driver to take one or both hands off the wheel to perform a task, like picking up their phone to read a text or reaching for something in the backseat.
- Cognitive– A cognitive distraction is something that completely takes a driver’s mind off the road, like typing a response to a text message.
Since they take a driver’s mind off the road, cognitive distractions are typically the most dangerous, but even a simple glance away from the road can have massive consequences.
Some examples of these cognitive distractions include:
- Eating or drinking
- Listening to loud music
- Changing the music or temperature inside the car
- Styling hair or putting on makeup
- Using a phone app like Snapchat, Waze, or Pokémon Go
- Lighting or putting out a cigarette
- Thinking deeply about something
Even the Passengers in Your Car Can Become a Distraction
Additionally, having children or friends in the car can contribute to an increased risk of distracted driving. For teen drivers, having an additional passenger in their vehicle doubles their chance of being in an accident. For parents, having a kid in the car leads to the driver’s eyes being off the road for an average total of 3 minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute car ride, which means that their eyes are off the road for 21% of the entire drive. Even pets can be a distraction, as 65% of drivers admit to becoming distracted by their furry passengers.
Some of these actions, like changing the radio station or taking a sip of coffee, might not seem that dangerous. However, it’s important to remember that a car can travel the length of a football field in just five seconds. This is why any kind of distracted behavior, even something as simple as glancing at a map, can be dangerous.
When to Call a Car Crash Lawyer after a Distracted Driver Causes a Crash
When someone is distracted behind the wheel, it can lead to a variety of problems and dangers on the roads. One of the most common results of distracted driving is rear-end accidents, which occur when one driver crashes into the vehicle in front of it. For example, if a driver is texting, they might not see that the driver is front of them is legally and responsibly stopping for an upcoming red light, leading to a rear-end accident. When compared to other types of crashes, like head-on collisions, rear-end accidents are not as fatal, but can lead to serious and long-lasting injuries, including whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, and retinal detachment.
Similarly, accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists are also a common and tragic result of distracted driving, as a driver might not realize that someone has entered the road. These kinds of accidents are more likely to be fatal for the pedestrian, since they are much smaller than the vehicle.
No matter the cause—whether it’s sending a text or just talking to a friend—distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. Remember to always keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel!
If you have been injured in a crash involving a distracted driver, it’s important to look into your legal options. After seeking medical treatment for any injuries, contact a personal injury attorney in your area to set up a case consultation.