We are currently driving more miles than ever before – each day, most Americans get behind the wheel of their vehicle, carpool, or use public transport to get to their destinations. While these technologies and options have made traveling faster and easier than ever, they also bring unique dangers.
Sadly, there are over 37,000 deaths every year due to car crashes, and roughly 3,200 of those fatalities are attributed to distracted driving – an entirely preventable situation. Distracted driving is a complicated problem in modern society because there is no one source of it, although there are significant factors. Radios, bluetooth devices, smartphones, and other distractions can all vie for drivers’ attention while on the road.
Many organizations, businesses, and government agencies are working together to bring more awareness to the issue. The numbers tell us that distracted driving can easily and quickly become a fatal situation for drivers.
What is Distracted Driving?
Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from safely operating their vehicle is considered distracted driving. This includes: texting, talking on the phone, eating or drinking, using the radio or entertainment systems, using navigation systems, or even having involved conversations in the vehicle. If it’s something that takes the driver’s attention and focus away from the road, then it is distracted…and dangerous.
Every distraction we encounter makes a crash more likely. The latest available data shows us that cell phones play a large role in distracted driving, and texting is often singled out because it takes drivers’ eyes off the road for five seconds or more. So, if you’re traveling at 55 mph, those 5 seconds translate into the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field without looking at the road.
Understanding the Statistics Behind Distracted Driving
Unfortunately, teens are the largest age group who drive while distracted. Which results in more than half of teen crashes (6 out of ever 10, according to AAA) are caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving is also usually a repeated offense – not unlike opting to drive while under the influence. Drivers “get away with it” once without enduring any adverse consequences and then continue to behave dangerously due to that false sense of safety.
Because of its widespread damage, distracted driving has often been labeled an epidemic. In many instances it is virtually impossible to determine whether distracted driving played a role in a car crash, leading a large number of experts to believe that the incidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving are actually much higher than reported. Regardless, the data available does provide us with significant pieces of information:
- Three seconds is all the time needed for a distraction to cause a crash.
- Car crashes are the number one cause of death for American teenagers.
- Drivers are three times more likely to be in a fatal collision if they are between 16 and 19 years old.
- Distracted driving is difficult to predict and, therefore, very tough to proactively resist.
- The vast majority of drivers, 80%, admit to driving hazardously. These behaviors include activities like steering with a foot, painting their nails, doing make-up, shaving, changing clothes, texting, etc.
- The number of drunk driving fatalities in adolescents has decreased, but the number of teen traffic fatalities overall has remained constant.
- Distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017; 297 of those individuals were between the ages of 15 and 19.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a car crash involving distracted driving, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. The personal injury attorneys here at Friedman Law Offices, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, are passionate about putting an end to distracted driving and would be happy to provide you with a free consultation to review your situation and case.