The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,154 people in the U.S. died in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers in 2013. This was a 6.7% increase over the distracted driving deaths of the previous year. In addition to the fatalities, approximately 424,000 people suffered injuries in distracted driving accidents – 3,000 more than the prior year.
Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving endangers motorists and bystanders, according to NHTSA. Although talking on cell phones and texting are common distractions in this electronic age, distracted driving can take many other forms. It can involve:
- Talking to passengers
- Dealing with children
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, or MP3 player
- Watching a video
- Using the navigation system
- Reading a map or other materials
- Searching for something in the vehicle
Distracted Driving and New Technology
As covered in a CNN Money article, Apple has developed a new CarPlay system that will allow drivers to dictate text messages, make hands-free calls, and access a number of other iPhone functions while driving. According to the article, Apple claims that this technology will increase safety by allowing drivers to access their phones without taking their eyes off the road.
However, the National Safety Council is concerned that this technology means more distraction for drivers – not less. Even hands-free and eyes on the road, there is still the cognitive distraction that must occur when a driver is focused on any activity other than driving.
Teen Distracted Driving
Teens are notorious for texting while driving, but according to the National Safety Council, the distraction of having other teenagers in the vehicle is an even greater risk. The council reports that research has shown that crash risk for a teen driver increases by 44% with a single teen passenger in the car. That study, conducted by the AAA Foundation, found that crash risk doubles for a teen driver carrying 2 passengers less than 21 years of age and quadruples with 3 passengers under the age of 21 with no adult passenger in the car.
The risk of accidents with this type of distraction is so significant that many states have passed laws to prevent it. Graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs in most states prohibit or restrict teen drivers in the provisional licensing phase (after the learner’s permit phase) from carrying teens as passengers when they drive.
Legal Options for Distracted Driving Accident Victims
All drivers have a duty to other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to exercise reasonable care. When a driver is distracted from the important task of safely operating a motor vehicle and causes an accident as a result, that driver is negligent and may be held liable for injuries sustained in the accident.
If you have been hurt in a traffic crash caused by a distracted driver, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. At The Law Office of David E. Gordon P.C., for example, lawyers can investigate your accident to determine who was at fault, assess the full extent of your injuries, and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.