Distracted driving is, sadly, not uncommon. Plenty of people have glanced at a text or maybe typed in a new address into their GPS while stopped at a red light or as they’re pulling out of a parking lot. However, just because it is common doesn’t mean it is any less dangerous. Thousands of lives are lost every year due to this form of reckless driving.
No matter who is driving while using their phone (or eating their lunch, or changing the radio station), the risk of injuries from these accidents remains high, and the fault of the accident likely falls with the distracted driver. It is important that you contact a car accident attorney if you are ever in a collision with a distracted driver so that your lawyer can request all witness statements, phone records, and other electronic data to prove that it was in fact distracted driving that caused the accident.
Which demographic drives distracted the most?
In a recent survey released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), instead of showing that teens and new drivers being the most likely to drive distracted, it is actually parents and gig workers: “Gig-economy workers are 4 times as likely as other drivers to use smartphone apps regularly while driving.” This may come as no surprise because ride-sharing and ride-hailing businesses are conducted via cell-phones, and require texting and use of the GPS or map app. This means that perhaps their job may require them or pressure them into using their phones while driving.
Parents of children 18 years or younger “are also nearly 50 percent more prone to routinely making video calls, checking weather reports and other types of smartphone-enabled distractions” than those without children under the age of 18.
It’s important to note that while cellphone use has become a big factor in distracted driving, a driver can be distracted by more than just cellphones. Anything from the radio, to applying make-up, to reaching for a snack from the passenger seat is considered distracted driving. If you are taking your eyes off the road or hands off of your wheel, then you are participating in distracted driving, and it only takes a second or two for something to happen on the road that may cause a car accident.
What are some distracted driving behaviors?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2020, 3,142 people died due to accidents involving distracted driving. According to The Zebra, a report released by the NHTSA in 2019 shows “that roughly, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted.”
How are all these people ending up in accidents? It does not need to be a phone that pulls one attention from the road. Some common distracted driver behaviors include:
- Eating or drinking
- Changing the radio
- Fiddling with the GPS
- Rubbernecking at an accident
- Turning around to face passengers in the backseat
- Trying to grab something from the backseat or the floor of the front seat
- Focusing on the rearview mirror
- Paying attention to your children or your pets
If you feel that you are being safe by not using your phone, but you are still participating in any of these (and other) types of behaviors, you are still not safe from the risks of distracted driving.
What makes distracted driving so dangerous?
It may not feel like it, but when you glance down at your phone or take your attention off the road, it only takes one brief second for a lot to happen. The NHTSA states that the amount of time it takes to look at a text on average is about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, a car moves forward the span of an entire football field in that amount of time. A car could swerve in front of yours, or an animal might run out in front of your vehicle.
When you are distracted, your reaction time is slowed as well;, you are simply not as prepared for the accident as you might be, had your eyes been on the road and your hands on the steering wheel.
Succinctly, what makes distracted driving so dangerous is time; how long it takes to look away from the road, how long it takes for you to react to any emergencies, and how long you have your hands off the steering wheel. Ultimately, the final aspect of distracted driving that makes it so dangerous are the injuries and fatalities it causes, no matter what the driver was distracted by or for how long.
Distracted driving can not only cause injury to the distracted driver, but to the drivers around them. If you have been injured in an accident with a distracted driver, then you deserve compensation for your damages and injuries. Reckless driving is negligent driving because the driver is neglecting to care for the safety of the other drivers on the road. You should not have to suffer more than you must for someone else’s carelessness and negligence. That is where Philbrook Law Office can help. Our car accident attorneys in Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA are diligent and knowledgeable, and they will investigate every aspect of the accident, ensuring that every witness is spoken to, that phone records are acquired, and that everything is done to prove that the at-fault party was driving distracted. To schedule an appointment, call us or use our contact page.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.