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Distracted driving simply means driving when you don’t have your complete focus on the crucial task of driving safely. These are seemingly harmless behaviors. But in the context of driving, these behaviors become extremely dangerous:
What’s especially unfortunate about these behaviors is that many of us are guilty of engaging in one or more of them, yet we don’t always recognize the inherent danger in doing so. The statistics on distracted driving are particularly alarming, especially if you take a moment to analyze the most recent data on car accidents caused by texting.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our car accident lawyers have seen first-hand the damage (physical, mental, emotional, or financial) distracted driving in a car accident can do to innocent victims and their families. We are here to help the victims and their families recover fair compensation after an accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people were killed in 2016 because of a distracted driver. A shocking statistic, and one that becomes all the more tragic due to how preventable those deaths were. To further illustrate just how dangerous distracted driving can be, approximately 391,000 people were injured in car accidents in 2015 as a direct result of distracted driving. It may seem hard to believe, but the potential for injuries, death, property damage, and skyrocketing medical costs is multiplied exponentially by doing something as harmless as responding to a simple text from a close friend.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that, on average, nine people are killed every day in the United States because of a distracted driver. More than one thousand people are injured yearly in car accidents involving a distracted driver. These numbers may seem unbelievable, yet they’re completely accurate.
There are three primary types of distracted driving:
Despite what some drivers may believe, you cannot drive safely unless you’re completely focused on the task of driving. An example that proves this point is texting while driving, which is something that most us are guilty of doing.
On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text. That’s five seconds during which your eyes are not focused on the road. If you’re driving on the freeway at the very reasonable speed of 55 mph, that’s comparable to closing your eyes while driving across the entire length of a football field.
As it involves visual, manual, and cognitive distractions, texting is especially dangerous. There are studies that validate how risky texting while driving really is. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) determined that a driver who is texting is twenty three times more likely to be the cause of a car accident.
Using your cell phone while driving in the state of California is both dangerous and illegal. You cannot drive while holding a cell phone in your hand for any reason. You can only use your phone in a hands-free manner. Under no circumstances can you ever hold a phone in your hand while driving. It’s worth mentioning that all drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone for any reason.
Smoking is a potentially dangerous activity all on its own, but smoking while driving is particularly risky as it means that for a few seconds both hands are no longer on the wheel. Some people are seasoned pros, but lighting a cigarette still takes a moment. Your attention will not completely be on the road throughout that time. This distraction will necessarily reduce the time you have to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions or emergencies.
2) Moving Objects in the Vehicle
For some people, the perfectly normal and very human reaction to seeing a spider or mosquito making itself at home in their car is to immediately kill or shoo it away. This can be more dangerous than it seems. Keep your hands on the wheel at all times. As for that little bug spreading fear and chaos all over your dashboard, well, it might have to wait a moment.
3) Eating or Drinking
Eating in the car can be a lot of fun, but reaching into that container of steaming hot fries means you’re unnecessarily distracted for a few seconds, or maybe more, depending on the severity of your appetite.
4) Other Occupants in the Vehicle
One of the most common instances of distracted driving is talking with or looking at the other passengers in your car. Engaging in a particularly emotional or difficult conversation can only increase your level of distraction. There might be a crying child or an upset puppy in the backseat, but your focus must be on the road in front of you at all times.
5) Looking at Something Outside the Car
People are notorious for their curiosity and short attention spans. Anytime we see something shiny, novel, or interesting by the side of the road we may feel curious enough to want to take a closer look. This is known as rubbernecking. Whether you’re taking your eyes off the road to stare at the aftermath of a car accident or to briefly check out a lovely jogger, doing so will create an unnecessary distraction.
Believe it or not, daydreaming is actually the most common reason for car accidents caused by distracted drivers. Thinking about the evening’s dinner plans or the unruly kids back home means you’re mind is everywhere but where it needs to be. Not being entirely present with the reality of the road unfolding in front of you is dangerous, and it will take longer for you to react to sudden changes in road conditions or emergencies.
If you have sustained injuries as a result of another driver’s distracted driving, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. An attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.