When you were hit by a driver who wasn't paying attention to the road, did you assume a teenager was behind the wheel with a cell phone? As progress in the electronic age marches forward, problems follow in its footsteps. Many people now text, talk, and hit buttons on smart car dashboards while they drive. Consequently, auto accidents resulting from distracted driving occur with alarming frequency. Yes, teens are a big part of the problem, but you may be surprised by who else is driving distracted--and when. Ultimately however, because of the growing problem of distracted driving, your auto accident lawyer may have good news about your chances of full compensation for your accident.
Distracted driving--what exactly is it?
Distracted driving refers to more than just texting while driving. It refers to any activity that takes the driver's attention from the operation of the vehicle. Therefore, activities such as putting on makeup, eating, listening to music or adjusting the radio, and looking at maps all constitute distracted driving.
Distracted driving by the numbers
What do statistics have to say about distracted driving? Well, here are a few to unsettle you:
Right now, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or fiddling with some electronic device as they drive. This number has held steady for the past four years.
Every time a driver texts, his/her eyes leave the road for at least five seconds, which is enough, at 55 mph, to cover the distance of a football field.
Ten percent of parents admit to being involved in long, multi-message text conversations while driving.
Distracted driving costs many people their lives. In 2012, 3,328 people died as a direct result of inattentive drivers--an increase of nine percent over the previous year.
Teens an expected big factor in distracted driving
A discussion of distracted driving is incomplete, unfortunately, without considering teens' responsibility for the problem. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Public Safety found that 58% of all teen crashes were caused by driver distraction. This extensive study of nearly 1,700 dash cam videos capturing the seconds just before teens crashed points to distraction as a greater factor than drugs/alcohol. Almost a million teens were involved in accidents in 2013 alone, and 16-19-year olds constitute the age group most likely to crash.
However, there are numerous surprises in the most recent statistics about distracted driving.
First of all, cell phone use is not the most common reason teens are distracted. The AAA study found that interaction with passengers was more of a factor in crashes than was cell phone use.
While nearly all teens believe texting and driving is dangerous, 43% admit to doing it.
Teens turn the tables: remember those 10% of parents who admitted to having text message conversations while behind the wheel? A whopping 77% of teens say their parents text while driving.
You might think that the holidays or New Year's Eve are prime time for car accidents, but you're missing another yearly event. During spring break each year, car accidents go up significantly in popular destination cities. In fact, accidents in cities where college students flock rise 9.1% during spring break. Another surprise: alcohol isn't the culprit. Once again, it's distracted driving that is most to blame, as those 20-somethings talk, eat, text, and fiddle with electronic devices as they drive.
What do all these statistics mean to you? If you've been the victim of a crash caused by distracted driving, you may just find stiffer laws on your side as you head to court. Many states, including Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, Utah and California, are debating increased penalties for distracted driving, especially for that involving cell phones. The National Safety Council reports that 73% of Americans want harsher laws; only 22% believe current laws are sufficient. This means that when the person responsible for causing the accident that injured you heads to court, the judge is more likely to award you full compensation for your injuries.
The best way to find out what kind of compensation you can expect is to schedule a free consultation with an auto accident attorney. The attorney will review your case and help you pursue an award that sets things right.