Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Injury Center, distracted driving causes more than 390,000 injuries and 3,477 deaths in a single year? This is shocking, because it means that drivers could prevent hundreds of thousands of accidents—and thousands of fatal ones—by paying attention to the road. There is no sure way to protect yourself from distracted drivers, but you can help reduce the likelihood that you will be involved in serious accidents as the result of distracted driving. You can also seek compensation if you were injured in a car accident because another driver was distracted.
Categories of Distracted Driving
- Generally, experts claim that three categories of distracted driving contribute to most motor vehicle accidents:
- Visual: When a driver’s eyes are not on the road at the time of or immediately before the accident
- Manual: When a driver’s hands or feet lose contact with the steering wheel or pedals
- Cognitive: When you are not focused on driving—that is, daydreaming
The reason why texting while driving is extremely dangerous and has been the focus of legislators is because it takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off of driving all at the same time. This means you are visually, manually, and cognitively distracted, while many other types of accidents are caused by only one type of distraction.
Unsurprisingly, drivers younger than 20 have the highest rates of distraction-related fatal car crashes, the majority of which are attributed to texting and use of electronic devices. It was also reported that, when compared to European drivers, Americans had higher overall rates of distracted driving incidents because they were more likely to email, text, or talk on a cell phone while driving. For these reasons, Pennsylvania has banned texting while driving. In fact, Pennsylvania law prohibits using a wireless device to send, read, or write a text-based communication while driving, which would include texting, emailing, or posting to a social media account. Notably, this does not include using a GPS.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distractions greatly reduce reaction time while driving. Thus, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation urges you to avoid the following behaviors while driving:
- Eating, drinking, or smoking, because your hands will be off the wheel and eyes off the road
- Adjusting the radio
- Using electronic devices
- Interacting with other passengers
- Searching for objects in your vehicle, such as dropped cell phones
- Reading, writing, or studying, of which many students are guilty during exams
- Grooming or putting on makeup, which is common during the morning business rush
- Looking for a destination
Statistics show that teenage drivers are more likely to end up in car accidents if they are driving with teenage passengers as opposed to driving alone or with adults. Interaction with teenage peers causes distractions, and peer pressure itself can induce young teenagers to drive faster or act more impulsively behind the wheel. If you want to prevent distracted driving, do not engage in such behaviors while your vehicle is in motion. It is also important to monitor young drivers to reduce their distractions, and to speak with teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
Experts state that education about the dangers of distracted driving, especially for those younger than 20, is the key to preventing many distracted driving accidents. Perhaps when young drivers are presented with the statistical likelihood of suffering or causing fatal or serious injuries due to texting or cell phone use, they would engage in distracted behaviors less often. Maybe stronger distracted driving laws and stricter enforcement of those laws will also help reduce distracted driving accidents.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to control other drivers on the road, and you cannot always protect yourself from another driver’s negligence. However, these tips may help you avoid accidents that result from distracted driving:
- When stopped at an intersection, wait two seconds after the light turns green before proceeding. This will allow any drivers who did not see the light change to pass.
- When at a multi-way stop, never assume another vehicle is going to stop or give you right-of-way. Be sure that the other vehicle has come to a complete stop at the stop sign before proceeding.
- If you witness a driver swerving or engaging in dangerous behavior, change lanes and put distance between yourself and the driver, then report the driver to the police.
Again, you cannot always prevent distracted driving accidents, but you can protect yourself from causing an accident by not engaging in behaviors that cause you to lose visible, cognitive, or physical focus on the road. You can also help prevent yourself from suffering more serious injuries as a result of a distracted driving accident by paying special attention at all high-speed intersections and avoiding drivers who engage in distracted behavior.
Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorney Today
Unfortunately, even if you take all of the above-recommended precautions, another distracted driver could still injure you. Taking precautions can help mitigate your responsibility for an accident, but it will not always mitigate your injuries.
If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of another driver’s negligent and distracted behavior, however, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering. The Levin Firm has the experienced Philadelphia personal injury and car accident attorneys you need to help fight for your right to compensation after a car crash. Contact them today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.