Does Distracted Driving Lead to Car Accidents?
During the past several years, distracted driving has become all too common, and it is a contributing factor in a growing number of car accidents. Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that in 2017 alone, just under 3,200 individuals were killed and tens of thousands more were seriously injured because of this type of behavior.
Distractions are nothing new, motorists have always had to deal with them. They can be distracted by billboards and other signs, eating and drinking in the car, putting on makeup in the car, reaching down to the floor to pick up something they dropped, passengers in the car, reading a map, and numerous other activities. What’s different about the distractions we have today is that they command far more of our attention, thus taking our focus completely away from the road.
The distractions mentioned above can be placed in one (or in some cases two) of three general categories:
The advent of smartphones and increased cell phone use behind the wheel has brought the hazards of distracted driving to a whole new level. Texting while driving, sending other electronic messages through social media apps, watching YouTube videos, taking photos, and similar activities are especially dangerous, because they involve all three of our faculties (visual, manual, cognitive).
One of the major challenges with distracted driving is that, although most people understand that this type of behavior is hazardous, this does not stop them from doing it. Despite years of high-profile public awareness campaigns and more restrictive texting while driving laws, many motorists do not take it seriously.
For example, when you come up to a stoplight and the light is red, you may think there is no harm in quickly responding to a text. But once you start looking down at your phone and thinking about what you are going to say, the light turns green and you either hold up traffic or get rear-ended by the car behind you.
What’s worse is if you see out of the corner of your eye that the light turned green and you decide to continue sending your text while driving forward. This is the time when all kinds of bad things can happen, such as blind spot accidents with bicycles, motorcycles, or other vehicles that you did not see because you were looking at your phone.
How bad is the problem of car accidents and distracted driving? A joint study conducted a few years back by the NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that nearly 80% of all vehicle crashes and 65% of near crashes resulted from some type of driver inattentiveness within 3 seconds before the crash. In addition, the National Safety Council (NSC) says that distracted-driving related auto accidents are under-reported, and that just under 30% of all motor vehicle crashes can be attributed directly to cell phone use.
Here are some other disturbing statistics about distracted driving and car accidents:
- Distracted driving is responsible for just under 60% of all teen crashes;
- Motorists who use cell phones are 5.36 times more likely to get into an auto accident than those who drive without distractions;
- Texting while driving heightens the risk of a motor vehicle crash (or near crash) by 23 times;
- Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off of the road for at least 5 seconds, long enough to travel the length of a football field if you are driving at 55 miles per hour;
- Teens whose parents engage in distracted driving are 2 to 4 times more likely to drive while distracted themselves.
As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of motorists understand the dangers of distracted driving. 84% of drivers find the practice of texting while driving or sending an e-mail while behind the wheel to be “unacceptable”. However, 36% of the same people admit to having engaged in these practices at least once during the previous month.
One of the possible reasons that motorists continue to send texts and participate in similarly dangerous practices while driving is because there are very few consequences for this type of behavior. For example, in Mississippi, texting while driving is illegal, but the penalty if someone is caught doing it is only $100. Of course, if their behavior causes an accident, the charge may be upgraded to reckless driving or even vehicular manslaughter (if the accident results in a fatality), but for sending a text while driving and without any aggravated circumstances, the consequences are negligible for most people.
Injured in a Distracted Driving Car Accident in Mississippi? Call the Gardner Law Firm Today for a Free Case Assessment
Texting while driving and similar activities put everyone on the road in greater danger. If you or someone close to you has suffered injury in a distracted driving accident that was someone else’s fault, you deserve to be fully compensated. Before accepting any type of settlement from an insurance company, get in touch with an experienced auto accident lawyer to review your rights and legal options.
At the Gardner law firm, we have several decades of experience successfully representing clients injured in all types of car accidents in Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, and communities throughout Mississippi. Our consultations are always free, and if we accept your case, you only pay attorney fees if we recover compensation on your behalf. To schedule your free consultation, call our office today at (228) 900-9618 or send us a message through our web contact form.