At any given moment during daylight hours, according to a recent survey by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there are approximately 660,000 drivers using cell phones or other electronic devices on U.S. roads. Despite widespread efforts in recent years to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving, this statistic has remained more or less unchanged.
Cell phones and driving don’t mix
Distracted driving is not a new problem, but it has grown far more prevalent in recent years with the booming popularity of cell phones, smart phones and other electronic devices. Other common distractions include activities such as eating and drinking, adjusting the stereo, or grooming behind the wheel.
While all types of distracted driving are dangerous, using a cell phone while driving is particularly risky. This is because, unlike many other driver distractions, talking or texting on a cellphone involves three different forms of distraction all at once: visual, manual and cognitive. In other words, using a handheld cell phone occupies a driver’s eyes, hands and concentration at the same time, greatly reducing his or her ability to drive safely and attentively.
A study conducted by Monash University concluded that drivers using handheld devices are four times more likely than other drivers to be in a serious car accident. Sending or receiving text messages may be even more risky than talking on a hand-held cell phone. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash than those who are focused solely on driving.
Adult drivers text more than teens
People often assume that texting while driving is primarily an issue among teenage drivers. However, a survey conducted by AT&T in 2012 revealed that adult drivers may actually be more likely than teens to text or email from the driver’s seat. 43 percent of teen drivers admitted to texting while driving, compared to 49 percent of adults.
Furthermore, 60 percent of the adults who admitted to texting while driving said that they never did so three years ago, suggesting that the problem may still be increasing. Although a vast majority (98 percent) of adults surveyed acknowledged that texting while driving is wrong, this awareness alone did not seem to be enough to change their behavior. Some experts believe that many people understand the risks of distracted driving when other people do it, but do not see their own behavior as dangerous, according to an NHTSA press release.
Liability for distracted driving accidents
When distracted driving contributes to accidents and injuries, an at-fault driver can be held liable for any harm that occurs as a result of his or her negligence or inattentiveness. People injured in distracted driving accidents may be able to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost income and other expenses. For more information about seeking compensation after a traffic accident, contact a car accident attorney.