How Common Is Distracted Driving?
Driving has traditionally been one of the most dangerous activities we engage in. If done carefully and conscientiously, however, the benefits of driving usually outweigh the risks. Automakers, legislators and other safety advocates have been working to make cars and driving safer since the automobile first went into mass production.
Unfortunately, the decisions that many of us make behind the wheel are negating those safety improvements. In fact, over the past couple decades, car accident death and injury rates have started climbing steadily again, largely due to widespread ownership of cellphones. Distracted driving is both undeniably dangerous and unacceptably common.
What Counts As Distracted Driving?
Distraction behind the wheel can have numerous causes, but there are three types of driving distraction:
- Anything that takes your eyes off the road is a visual distraction (such as looking for something you dropped in the car)
- Anything that removes your hands from the wheel is a manual distraction (like eating while driving)
- Anything that prevents you from concentrating on driving is a cognitive distraction (like daydreaming)
As the examples above suggest, cellphones are not the only source of distraction. However, they are among the most common. Also, certain cellphone activities like texting involve all three types of distraction.
Distracted driving involving cell phones impacts every age group of drivers, but it is particularly prevalent and dangerous among younger drivers (age 16-24). These drivers are the most likely to use cellphones behind the wheel and the most at risk for crashes due to simple inexperience.
Deaths And Injuries: What The Statistics Show
According to statistics compiled by the CDC, some 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2015 alone. In 2016, approximately 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving accidents. On an average day on U.S. roads, 1,000 people are injured and nine are killed because of distracted driving.
Because cell phones pose such a safety threat, most states have enacted laws limiting their use behind the wheel. This includes:
- 48 states and Washington, D.C., have banned texting while driving for all drivers.
- 21 states plus Washington, D.C., have banned all use of handheld cell phones while driving. This means devices can be used only in hands-free mode.
- 39 states (plus D.C.) have laws banning all cell phone use by novice drivers.
Laws are both necessary and a good idea, but they are not enough to stop distracted driving. It is simply too difficult to catch all drivers who use cellphones behind the wheel. That’s why safety advocates continue to push for widespread cultural change to make distracted driving as taboo as other behaviors, like drunk driving.
Have You Been Injured? Know Your Legal Options.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a distracted driver, you have the right to pursue justice and compensation with the help of an experienced car accident attorney. You may be entitled to damages for past/present/future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and property damage. Just as importantly, you will be sending the message that distracted driving has real consequences for those who choose to do it.
Thanks to our friends from Cohen & Cohen for their insight into car accidents and distracted driving.
Chudleigh Law P.C. helps individuals that have been injured due to the negligence of others, which unfortunately commonly happens as a result of distracted driving. If you have been injured in California, contact Chudleigh Law P.C. for a free legal consultation.