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Why Distracted Driving is a Leading Cause of Car Accidents in the United States

Distracted Driving

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Association reports that 15 percent of all vehicle-related traffic crashes in 2019 were recorded as distracted driving incidents. Over 3,000 people died, and over 400,000 injuries were attributed to distracted driver-caused accidents that year. So, why is distracted driving such a significant cause of car accidents? There are many reasons for this statistic. Generally, it is because we drive so often that we become complacent. We incorrectly assume that we can multitask behind the wheel. Several studies have shown that multitasking is not real. Our brains can only perform one task at a time. The result of our attempts to multitask while operating a vehicle is distracted driving.

While most of us think of cell phones or texting as the only source of distracted driving, that is not true. The NHTSA defines distracted driving as anything that diverts a driver's attention from the act of driving. If we are honest with ourselves, this definition applies to nearly every driver at one time or another. It is no wonder distracted driving is the leading cause of collisions in the United States.

Consider the CDC's three types of distraction that can occur in a vehicle. The three types of distracted driving are:

  • Visual - Not looking at the road.
  • Manual - Operating something other than the vehicle.
  • Cognitive - Thinking about something other than driving.

Personal electronic devices are obvious sources of distraction for many drivers. Opening and reading a text on a cell phone touches on all three types of distraction. Consider that a car traveling 60 miles per hour covers 88 feet in one second. Suppose it takes 4 seconds to pick up a cell phone and glance at a text. That car will have traveled the distance of a football field without the driver seeing the road or surrounding traffic. Imagine the distraction time created when that driver is typing a text!

Many other sources of distraction exist in every vehicle. Some seem perfectly harmless. Talking with friends or children in the back seat can cause lapses in attention, even though the driver's eyes are on the road. Singing along a little too energetically with a favorite song can be a distraction that we do not recognize. But it does take cognitive effort that could be better employed in evaluating traffic. Tuning the radio or operating other entertainment devices also distracts a driver's attention from the more important task of driving. Eating, drinking, even shaving, or putting on make-up (believe it or not) at the wheel distracts attention from the task of safely operating a vehicle. All of these acts may seem harmless. Technically, they are examples of distracted driving.

Proving a distracted driving case can be tricky. The fact that a citation was issued is not always enough to ensure the victim of a distracted driver receives the compensation they deserve. An experienced attorney knows where to attain the supporting evidence to prove and assure a successful claim. The right attorney will handle every aspect of your case, allowing you to concentrate on healing and getting back to your regular life.


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