The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving has become an epidemic in this country. In 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in the United States after being involving in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving at any given moment during the day.
The U.S. government defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This endangers themselves, their passengers, and bystanders. Some examples of distracted driving include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Texting, both sending and receiving, is considered the worst distraction because it requires the driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive attention. When sending a text message while driving, your attention is diverted for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving across the full length of a football field blindfolded.
This is a nationwide problem, but individual states are taking matters into their own hands. Massachusetts, for example, enacted the Safe Driving Law in the fall of 2010, which created a new series of violations to crack down on distracted driving, specifically texting. Even though the state committed many resources to this effort, distracted driving remains a dangerous problem throughout the Commonwealth.
A 2015 Erie Insurance survey found that drivers admit to doing all sorts of dangerous things behind the wheel, including brushing their teeth, switching drivers, taking selfies, and changing clothes. The survey also reported that one-third of drivers said they text while driving and three-quarters report seeing others texting while driving.
Teens and young drivers have the highest risk of practicing this unsafe driving behavior. Car accidents are the leading cause of death in 15 to 20 year olds. Ten percent of teen drivers (15 to 19 years old) involved in a fatal car crash in 2014 were distracted at the time of the collision, according to the NHTSA.
What Can I Do?
It can be overwhelming to think of how to stop distracted driving, but there are a few steps you can take to make the roads safer for everyone.
- Be Accountable: Stopping distracted driving begins with you. Avoid texting and talking on the phone while driving, study maps and navigation systems prior to your trip, secure children and pets before you ever turn the car on, and pull over if you need to address something happening in the vehicle (like bickering children or an unsettled pet).
- Lend a Hand: When you are the passenger in someone else’s car, don’t let them get distracted: you can adjust the radio, navigate, and text so the driver can focus on his or her primary task.
- Set an Example: If you are a parent teaching a teenager to drive, it is important to set rules and expectations for driving behavior and model that behavior yourself. Empower your teen to say something if they are in a car with someone who is driving while distracted.
- Get Active: Write to your local and state representatives about passing and strictly enforcing distracted driving laws.
The Law Offices of George A. Malliaros
Even if you are a cautious and diligent driver yourself, you can’t control others’ driving behaviors. If the worst does happen, please contact the Law Offices of George A. Malliaros at (978) 452-6641 or complete the form on this page. We’ll support you every step of the way and treat you with the care and respect you deserve while we work together toward a positive outcome. We offer free consultations and our no fee policy ensures that you do not pay fees or expenses until or unless we achieve a recovery.
Distracted Driving Survey. (2015, March 25). Erie Insurance. Retrieved from: https://www.erieinsurance.com/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/2015/distracted-driving
Distracted Driving Facts & Statistics. (2016, June 25). United States Government. Retrieved from: http://www.distraction.gov/
Driver Electronic Device Use in 2011. (2013, April). NHTSA National Occupant Protection Use Survey. Retrieved from: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811719.pdf