More than a thousand people are injured in car accidents daily according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Distracted drivers contribute to that number. It’s estimated that accidents involving distracted drivers account for approximately 10 auto accident fatalities.
We’re all aware of the distraction caused by cell phones and other personal devices, but distraction comes in many more varieties than that. Experts classify distraction within three categories, and many of the specific actions identified further below involve two or more of them.
- Visual – looking away from the road
- Manual – taking your hands off the steering wheel
- Cognitive – daydreaming and similar mental diversions
What are the most common and dangerous driving distractions?
- Talking on a cell phone. Even if the system is in-dash and voice activated, the National Safety Council reports that drivers talking on the phone can miss up to 50% of what’s happening around them. The brain is not as good a multi-tasker as we like to think.
- Texting. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has estimated that a texter’s eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds each time—long enough to travel the length of a football field when driving at 55 mph.
- Eating, drinking, and smoking. Of course, all of these also involve looking, reaching, and all too often retrieving a dropped item.
- Talking to passengers. Passengers can be a plus or a minus. In some cases they can point out hazards in the area or help keep a driver alert, but there’s a good reason most states don’t allow brand new licensed drivers to have same-age passengers.
- Grooming. Rush hour especially is full of drivers applying makeup, shaving, filing nails, and combing or brushing their hair.
- Reading. Whether someone is looking at a paperback or a printed map, given the amount of time the reader must look away from the road means this is an accident just waiting to happen.
- Watching a video. Videos are for the passengers—especially the kids in the backseat. Drivers should ignore the picture and just enjoy the soundtrack…without being distracted of course.
- Adjusting in-dash technology. Car radios used to be very simple with two dials and five push-buttons; now they rival a home stereo system. Dashboards can look like airplane cockpits when you add in the climate control, navigation, and other systems. Giving drivers all the comforts and conveniences of home has not made them or the roads any safer.
Distraction is especially dangerous for 18-20 year olds, who, according to Arbella Insurance Foundation, are four times more likely to be involved in a distraction-related accident than a driver who is older than 35. Whatever your age, be aware of the danger posed by distractions, whether personal or technology-based, every time you drive.
If you’ve been in an accident, contact the Frickey Law Firm for a free consultation. The car accident attorneys at Frickey Law Firm have been representing accident victims in Colorado for over 50 years.