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You May Be Driving Distracted and Not Even Know It

you may be driving distracted and not even know it

As car accidents are among the leading causes of death in the United States, many could be avoided if we eliminate driving while distracted. Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Culture Index reported that 80% of drivers believe driving while distracted is a serious problem, causing them to feel less safe on the road. Each day 9 people are killed and 1,153 are injured because of accidents caused to distractions while driving; 16% of all fatal vehicle collisions are results of distracted drivers, equaling approximately 5,000 deaths per year. Teen drivers are the most distracted, driving at about a 25% distraction rate.

There are 3 types of distracted driving: 1) visual distractions – when you take your eyes off of the road, 2) cognitive/mental distractions – when you have things on your mind other than driving safely and cautiously, and 3) manual distractions – when you take your hands off of the steering wheel. Most distractions are a combination of at least 2 of the 3 ways to be distracted while driving. For example, texting involves all three because you use your eyes, hands, and cognitive skills to read and/or dispatch a text message. Some other distractions include (but is by no means is an exhaustive list): using electronics to download or make musical selections or navigation, cell phone use (69% of drivers age 18-64 admit to talking on cell phones while driving and 31% admit to texting while driving), changing radio stations, eating, drinking, applying make-up, a passenger, observing outside events (such as accidents), making adjustments (such as mirrors, seats, or climate), smoking, moving objects (such as pets), and, surprisingly, being lost in thought.

A couple of years ago, an insurance company published the top ten distractions experienced by drivers. Those distractions and the amount they contribute to all accidents caused by distracted driving, in descending order, are:

10) Smoking – this includes, lighting, dumping ashes, and putting out the cigarette – 1%;

9) Moving objects – 1%;

8) Using vehicle devices (mirrors, navigation, seat) – 1%;

7) Adjusting audio and climate controls – 2%;

6) Eating and drinking – 2%;

5) Using electronics – 2%;

4) Other occupants – 5%;

3) Outside people, objects, and events – 7%;

2) Cell phone use (talking, texting, downloading, etc.) – 12% (causing the most fatalities): the National Safety Council has reported that approximately 1,600,000 accidents per year are due to cell phone use;

1) Daydreaming – 62% (Shockingly).

While the most obvious distraction is cell phone use, the most dangerous distraction (daydreaming) is also the most unsuspecting. It should be of no surprise though, when considering the busy schedules, unruly traffic conditions, and the economic stress burdened on today’s society. People’s lives and mental states are in work overload, carrying over into every aspect of life, including driving. More and more states are implementing stricter highway safety laws in an effort to deter distracted driving. Distracted drivers put not only themselves, but, their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk when allowing distractions to inhibit their ability to engage in fully observing the rules of the road. Hopefully identifying all the ways to be distracted while driving will allow motorists to take more precautions to ensure driving at the safest capacity possible.

If you have been involved in an accident with a driver you suspect was distracted, please contact the law offices of Andrew Ritholz – an experienced car accident and personal injury attorney serving Pasadena and Los Angeles.

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