We all know that distracted driving is dangerous driving and that drivers who choose to text and drive represent the zenith of this danger. While many of us believe that hands-free smartphone usage is the answer to the inherent dangers of engaging with handheld devices while driving, studies show that this isn’t necessarily the truth of the matter. This constitutes an important safety issue that we should examine more closely.
Driving and the Distracted Brain
The National Safety Council published “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving while Using Hands-Free Cell Phones Is Risky Behavior” in 2012, and the article carefully parses the dangers associated with hands-free smartphone usage. Motor vehicle accidents, it points out, are among the top causes of death throughout everyone’s lifetime. Additionally, car accidents lead to an enormous number of life-altering injuries. Car accidents, in other words, are extremely dangerous.
As such, it’s necessary to determine the factors that frequently cause serious car accidents. It has been determined that distracted driving has joined the ranks of incredibly risky behavior. In fact, it’s now categorized with both driving under the influence of alcohol and of speeding. That’s how dangerous it is to drive while distracted. As smartphones have cemented their position of importance in our lives the distracted driving issue has only become more pronounced.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you understand how devastating that can be, but you don’t have to endure the consequences alone. The experienced car accident attorneys at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia have the skill, knowledge, and determination to aggressively advocate for your rights and for your rightful compensation.
Your smartphone requires your cognitive attention—even if it doesn’t necessitate that you physically handle it. Your cognitive attention is also necessary to drive safely. Your cell phone usage while driving, therefore, competes for the cognitive attention you should be expending on driving safely down the road. Further, when you’re faced with multiple demands for your cognitive attention, you very well may not realize that you are missing critical visual cues that relate to your driving, which can minimize your ability to recognize the negative impact your cell phone usage is having on your driving. When you get behind the wheel, it’s imperative that you carefully consider where you’re focusing your cognitive attention and to do everything you can to keep it trained on the important task of driving safely.
Preventing Distracted Driving
This informative paper goes on to note that even when drivers are made aware of the significant risk of hands-free cell phone usage, they tend to rationalize their own indulgence in the activity by reasoning that they are simply more skilled in this area than other drivers are. The paper, therefore, posits that for a prevention strategy to work it must address this awareness issue. We’ve learned that the consistent enforcement of laws related to traffic safety—such as driving under the influence, seatbelt usage, and speeding—is the single most effective mechanism for changing dangerous driving behaviors. As such, the paper recommends a similar legislative approach to effectively curbing dangerous hands-free cell phone usage.
Distracted Driving: A Closer Look
Cell phone usage is so closely associated with dangerous distracted driving that it’s important to take a closer look. Distracted driving has become so prevalent that the U.S. government devotes a website to the issue, distraction.gov. Distracted driving refers to any driving in which the driver’s attention is focused on anything other than the driving at hand. Potential distractions are categorized into three distinct classifications:
- Manual Distractions
- Distractions that engage your hands, such as texting on your smartphone;
- Visual Distractions
- Distractions that draw your eyes into play, such as looking at a text on your smartphone; and
- Cognitive Distractions
- Distractions that engage your thoughts, such as reading a text on your smartphone.
- Texting, in other words, involves all three modes of distraction and is an especially dangerous activity to engage in when you drive.
Distracted Driving: The Sobering Statistics
Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers; it’s as simple as that. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares that distracted driving plays a significant role in 9 traffic deaths and more than 1,000 traffic injuries daily. The website 4autoinsurancequote.com reports additional dire statistics:
- Texting while driving causes over 1,600,000 car accidents per year, according to the National Safety Council.
- Almost 25% of all car accidents are caused by texting while driving.
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, texting while driving causes 11 teen deaths every day.
- According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, 330,000 injuries per year are caused by texting while driving.
- Texting while driving is the top driving distraction, according to teen drivers.
- Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a car accident than driving while intoxicated is.
- According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting while driving is equivalent to driving after consuming 4 beers.
- Texting while driving leads to a 400% increase of taking your eyes off the road.
- Texting while driving slows your reaction speed for braking by 18%, according to HumanFactors and Ergonomics.
- According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting while driving makes you twenty-three times more likely to get into an accident.
- At any given moment, 800,000 drivers in the U.S. are engaged in texting while driving.
- According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving is the equivalent to driving blind for 5 seconds at a time.
To better illustrate the significant role that interfacing with your smartphone can play in a serious car accident, consider the fact that you take your eyes off the road for at least 5 complete seconds when you read a text, which translates to driving blind for the entire length of a football field.
Drivers Beware of Distractions!
Distracted drivers are so dangerous that it’s helpful to be on the lookout for telltale signs of distracted driving:
- A driver who drifts in and out of his or her lane;
- A driver who ignores traffic signs and signals;
- A driver who drives erratically; and
- A driver whom you witness interacting with his or her smartphone.
Give such drivers plenty of room on the roadway, and if you deem it necessary, alert the authorities. You could help prevent a dangerous accident from occurring.
If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver, Consult With an Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you know just how difficult that is. Because your just compensation is far too important to leave to chance, the dedicated car accident attorneys at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia are here to help. Our skilled legal team has the experience, knowledge, and commitment to fight for your claim’s most favorable outcome, so please contact or call us at 215-825-5183 today.