Recent research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that drivers on our nation’s roads and highways are more distracted than ever. While overall cell phone use by drivers has gone down and fewer people are talking on their phones while behind the wheel than in years past, more drivers are fiddling with their smartphones in other dangerous ways. As reported in USA Today, IIHS researchers positioned at stop lights and other roadway areas saw drivers “manipulating” their phones by hand 57 percent more often in 2018 than in 2014, when a previous study was done. Manipulation includes using the phone for texting and possibly other things, such as searching the internet, changing music and getting directions. About one in four drivers were focused on something besides the road ahead, the research showed.
Texting and other smartphone-distracted driving behaviors that take drivers’ eyes off the road and hands off the wheel make people about 66 percent more likely to get into an accident, compared to if they were simply using their phone to talk, according to researchers. IIHS estimates say that about 800 people died in wrecks in 2017 because of drivers who were texting or using their phones for something besides talking.
A Nationwide Epidemic
The IIHS study was performed in Virginia, but experts note that drivers in Virginia are not any more likely to be distracted by their smartphones, or otherwise distracted behind the wheel, than drivers in other areas of the country. Distracted driving is truly a nationwide epidemic. Fatalities caused by all types of distracted driving were 3,166 in 2017, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Statistics for the past several years show that over 3,000 people die each year because of distracted driving.
Besides talking, texting and other cell phone use, what are other distracted driving behaviors? Basically, distracted driving includes anything that takes a driver’s attention away from driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three kinds of distracted driving behaviors: visual, manual and cognitive:
- Taking your eyes off the road (visual)
- Taking your hands off the wheel (manual)
- Taking your mind off of driving (cognitive).
Eating, drinking, reading, using in-vehicle infotainment systems, shaving, putting on makeup, smoking, daydreaming, interacting with other passengers and looking at something outside the vehicle, such as an accident or billboard, are all forms of distracted driving.
Identifying Distracted Drivers
Distracted drivers don’t injure only themselves in accidents; they frequently cause injuries to others on the road. By staying away from vehicles that appear to be operated by distracted drivers, you can potentially keep yourself safe. Some signs that a distracted driver might be at the wheel include:
- A driver looking down instead of at the road
- The telltale light of a cell phone screen in a driver’s hand at night
- A car that drifts in and out of its lane
- A vehicle that brakes suddenly or erratically for seemingly no reason
- Vehicles that go much slower than the flow of traffic, or speed up and slow down.
If you’ve been in an accident caused by a distracted driver and have questions, Kaplan Lawyers PC are here to assist you. Our experienced car accident attorneys are available for you to contact 24/7.