Distracted Driving: What It Is and Why It Is Dangerous

by | Aug 8, 2019

Distracted driving involves any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. It is an extremely dangerous behavior that puts other motorists and pedestrians at risk. In fact, distracted driving caused 8.5% of all traffic fatalities in 2017. Get the facts on why distracted driving is so dangerous and how to seek legal action if you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

When a driver takes their eyes off the road for five seconds or more when driving 55 miles per hour, it is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with their eyes closed. Many behaviors may take a driver’s eyes off the road for this long, including using a smartphone, eating, drinking, looking for a lost item, and more.

While all distracted driving behaviors are dangerous, using a smartphone while driving is particularly dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive:

  • Visual distraction: The driver’s eyes are taken off the road.
  • Manual distraction: The driver’s hands are taken off the wheel.
  • Cognitive distraction: The driver’s mind is taken off the task of driving.

Sadly, the dangers of distracted driving do not seem to deter people from engaging in these behaviors. Distracted driving deaths rose from 3,092 in 2010 to 3,477 in 2015, and those injured by distracted driving totaled 391,000 in 2015 alone.

While people of all age groups participate in distracted driving, certain age groups are most at risk. Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distracted-related fatal crashes. Additionally, in a study conducted by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), researchers found that 42% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days reported sending a text or email while driving.

State Laws Regarding Distracted Driving

The rise in cell phone use in the last couple decades—compounded with the introduction of smartphones—has led many states to enact laws surrounding cell phone use while driving.

  • Hand-held cell phone use: 19 states and the District of Columbia have prohibited all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. In these states, a law enforcement officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All cell phone use: While no state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, 39 states and the District of Columbia ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and the District of Columbia ban it for school bus drivers.
  • Text messaging: 48 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers.

Distracted driving has serious consequences. Not only will distracted drivers face heavy fines, higher insurance premiums, and loss of driving privileges, but they also have the potential to seriously injure or kill another motorist or pedestrian. This may lead to criminal penalties and possible jail time.

Types of Distracted Driving

Despite these potential risks and penalties, many drivers continue to engage in distracting behaviors while operating their vehicle. While dangerous, texting and driving is not the only way for drivers to become distracted on the road. Other forms of distracted driving include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Looking up directions on a smartphone or map
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Having a conversation with a passenger
  • Listening to music
  • Managing children or pets in the car

While the onus should be on motorists not to drive distracted, many will never accept the responsibility that comes with driving. Therefore, it is in your best interest to know what to look out for in order to avoid distracted drivers and reduce your likelihood of an accident. While driving, be wary of drivers that are:

  • Driving too fast or slow
  • Swerving in between lanes
  • Braking suddenly
  • Staying still once traffic starts moving

Taking Action Against Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, even if you take the appropriate safety measures to avoid distracted drivers, accidents may still happen. If you have been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, you should not have to suffer for their negligence.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove distracted driving caused your accident and recover the compensation you deserve. In order to support your case, you and your personal injury attorney will collect:

  • Cell phone records. If you make a negligence claim, the law firm has the ability to subpoena the Defendant’s cell phone records. That will allow the lawyers to examine when the driver was texting, or talking on the phone.
  • Witnesses. It is in your best interest to collect witnesses’ contact information and testimony. Eyewitness accounts may help bolster your case.
  • Police officer’s testimony. A police officer’s testimony or a police report will help support your claim that your accident was caused by a distracted driver.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Us Today

When motorists engage in distracted behaviors while operating a vehicle, they make a conscious decision to drive negligently. When this results in an accident, you may be left with catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we fight relentlessly on half of victims and families who have been adversely affected by car accidents caused by distracted drivers. If you or someone you love has been injured by a driver who you suspect was engaging in distracted driving, do not hesitate to contact us. We will investigate all circumstances surrounding your accident, secure supporting evidence, and create a customized plan that establishes negligence and liability.

Contact us today at (202) 659-8600 to learn how we can help you.

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