The short answer is – these types of accidents are extremely common. In fact, Business Insider reports that distracted driving is by far the leading cause of car accidents in the US. And although estimates vary, experts agree that the vast majority of motor vehicle accidents involve some type of driver distraction.
Distracted Driving by the Numbers
Distracted driving claims the lives of thousands of individuals each year, and hundreds of thousands more suffer serious injuries because of these totally preventable accidents. Driver distraction has been a growing problem in recent years, and it is now commonly referred to as the “new drunk driving”.
Here are some of the most disturbing facts and statistics behind this growing national epidemic:
- On average, 9 individuals in United States are killed and more than 1,000 individuals are injured because of distracted driving each day;
- Vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in the US, and 16 to 19-year-olds are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than any other age group;
- Distracted driving is the direct cause of nearly 60% of all auto accidents involving teens;
- More than 80% of drivers admit to engaging in distracting behavior while behind the wheel;
- More than half of all motorists admit to using their cell phones while driving;
- It only takes three seconds after a driver’s attention has been diverted for a vehicle crash to occur;
- Distracted driving costs our society an estimated $40 billion each year;
- According to a CBS report, experts believe that the number of distracted driving related accidents is underreported.
Types of Driver Distractions
There are numerous ways that a motorist can get distracted, some of the most common include:
- Eating or drinking;
- Reaching for an object;
- Talking to or handling a passenger;
- Tuning a car radio;
- Programming a GPS;
- Staring at a billboard or sign for too long;
- Cell phone use.
Driver distractions fall into one or more of the following categories:
Any type of distraction while driving can be dangerous, but those that require more of your focus bring the hazards of this behavior to a whole new level. This is most definitely the case with texting while driving and other types of electronic activity on smart phones, such as browsing the internet or social media, watching videos, and taking photos or videos.
When a driver sends or receives a text, for example, it distracts them visually, manually, and cognitively. The end result is that the driver’s entire focus is directed away from the road, which can cause them to overlook very important things that may be happening, such as a pedestrian crossing or a vehicle slowing down in front of them.
The NHTSA points out that if a driver is traveling at 55 mph and looks away from the road for only five seconds to send or read a text, it is roughly the equivalent of traveling the entire length of a football field with their eyes closed. A lot can go wrong during that short window of time, and this is why motorists need to make a conscious decision not to use their smart phones while behind the wheel.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
We all need to do our part to put an end to the senseless accidents that result from distracted driving. Since this problem is particularly bad among teens, parents need to take proactive steps to educate their kids about the dangers of this type of behavior before they receive their driving permits. Parents also need to lead by example and refrain from texting while driving themselves.
Another thing parents should do is consider limiting or restricting the amount of time their teen is allowed to drive with other teens in the car. It is well-known that teenagers are particularly susceptible to peer pressure, and it is best to at least be aware of this danger and think about whether or not your child can effectively deal with negative pressure from their friends.
Finally, technology helped get us into this mess, but it is also helping to lead the way toward safer roadways. There are now numerous free apps that are available to help motorists avoid the temptation to use their smart phones while driving. Both teens and adult drivers should take advantage of this technology in order to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents on our nation’s roads.
Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in Alabama? Contact Burge & Burge for Assistance
If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed at the hands of a distracted driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests, even if it is your own insurer. Their only objective is to minimize the amount of damages they have to pay after a vehicle accident. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you retain the services of an experienced auto accident lawyer.
If your accident occurred in Birmingham or any of the nearby communities, call Burge & Burge today at 205-251-9000 or message us online for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We will meet with you to thoroughly review your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.