If you or someone that you care about was hurt in an accident caused by a distracted or texting driver, a distracted driving accident lawyer at The Sessions Law Firm can help you obtain the compensation that you deserve. Many people mistakenly believe that people can perform several complex tasks well. This is simply not true, and there is probably no more dangerous example than that created by drivers that attempt to text or perform other tasks while driving. All distractions compromise a driver's ability to some extent and threaten the safety of themselves, other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians along the roadway.
What is distracted driving and why is it so dangerous?
Distracted driving is commonly defined as when a driver's attention is diverted away from driving by a secondary task that requires focusing on an object, event, or person not related to the driving task. The driver of a vehicle must perform several tasks very well in order to safely operate the vehicle. Unfortunately, in addition to the tasks that a driver must perform which directly relate to the safe operation of the vehicle, many drivers attempt to perform additional tasks that distract from their ability to focus upon the task of operating the car, truck, or commercial vehicle safely. This is the heart of an accident caused by distracted driving.
What type of tasks distract driving?
The federal government and, particularly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has performed extensive studies upon the dangers of distracted driving. Although the problem only seems to be growing, the federal government and NHTSA have also been engaging in an extensive marketing effort to suppress the dangers of distracted driving.
Some tasks are a greater distraction to a driver's ability to focus upon driving than others. Reaching for something or attempting to use a phone are greater distractions from the more complex and important task of driving a vehicle safely. That is why cell phone usage poses a greater crash risk than eating, talking to a passenger, drinking (a non-alcoholic drink), or smoking. It is estimated that nearly one-third of all U.S. drivers 18 to 64 years old read or send text or email messages while driving, and using a cell phone to text or email messages while driving leads to more than 420,000 injuries and more than 3,100 deaths every year in the United States. Every time a driver adjusts a radio, tends to an irritable child, adjusts air conditioning or heating, applies make up, shaves, talks to passengers, eats, or reads a map (paper or electronic), the driver is engaging in a distracting task or activity. When drivers think about things other than driving, for example an argument with a spouse/significant other or financial problems, they can become distracted from the task of driving.
What does the data say about how dangerous texting while driving is?
The increased use of electronic devices by drivers has brought new awareness to the problem of distracted driving. Research continues to demonstrate the dangers of driving while using a cell phone and texting. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), in 2017, 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes with distracted drivers. Studies have shown the overall crash risk increases 3.6 times over model driving when a driver interacts with a handheld device. In 2014, there were 3,179 people killed and 431,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Why is texting while driving so dangerous and such a distraction to the ability to drive safely?
Using a cell phone to send text messages while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions possible to safe operation of a car, truck, or commercial vehicle. Use of a cell phone overlaps with the visual, manual, and cognitive areas. The visual distraction is a result of the driver staring at the cell phone rather than at the road, the manual distraction is a result of the driver manipulating the texting function of the cell phone, while the cognitive distraction is a result of the focus of attention in reading and composing a text response to messages. When an activity crosses into two or three of these domains, it is especially dangerous. At 55 mph, taking your eye off the road for 5 seconds to read or send a text would be like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. The task of driving requires full attention to be performed safely.