What Is Distracted Driving?

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Posted By | January 1, 2024 | Car Accidents

Distracted driving has become a steadily growing problem in the U.S. since smartphones became the center of our lives. Despite laws in most states placing restrictions on using hand-held devices behind the wheel, it remains common to observe drivers looking at their phones while in traffic. The number of fatalities from drunk driving remains higher than those from distracted driving accidents, but beginning in 2020, the number of car accidents and injuries from distracted driving accidents outpaced those of drunk driving crashes. An astonishing 8% of traffic deaths in 2021 resulted from distracted driving. Today, approximately nine people per day die in the United States due to distracted driving accidents.

Smartphones and Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has always been a cause of accidents, but decades ago distractions behind the wheel were mostly limited to eating, applying lipstick, and adjusting the radio and distracted driving accidents were uncommon. Today, smartphones are the number one cause of distracted driving accidents. Today’s world revolves around smartphones, used for everything from texting and calling to buying digital tickets to the movie theater. Despite the fact that texting and driving is now illegal in 48 states, common causes of smartphone-related distracted driving include the following:

  • Texting
  • Setting/checking a GPS
  • Making phone calls
  • Checking social media notifications
  • Selecting playlists and podcasts
  • Checking emails
  • Scrolling through social media
  • Commenting or posting on social media
  • Watching TikTok and Youtube vidoes
  • Taking selfies and making videos

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the five seconds it takes to read an average text message a car driving 55 mph travels the length of a football field—all while the driver’s eyes are off the road. Statistics also show that the average driver spends 1.38 minutes on their phone per hour of driving.

Other Common Causes of Distracted Driving

While smartphones are the most common cause of distracted driving accidents today, other distractions also take the driver’s eyes and/or attention off the road. Common causes of non-phone-related distractions include the following:

  • Eating and driving
  • Drinking coffee/adding cream and sugar to coffee
  • Adjusting the radio or sound system
  • Grooming the hair, beard, or makeup while driving
  • Interacting with children or passengers in the back seat
  • Reading or studying while driving
  • Daydreaming
  • Retrieving dropped objects

While parents may have to interact with children in the backseat, a driver should find a safe place to pull over if they have to discipline children or hand children items.

True-Life Examples of Distracted Driving Accidents

A daily average of 1,000 people are injured each day due to distracted driving accidents including pedestrians and bicyclists hit by distracted drivers. In 2020, 587 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed by distracted drivers. Recent real-life examples of devastating distracted driving accidents include the following:

  • A 17-year-old distracted driver in Minnesota drove through a red light while posting on Facebook and killed a father and his 10-year-old daughter in a side-impact collision while she also suffered serious injuries from the crash
  • Oklahoma teenager,Amanda Clark survived a texting and driving accident in which her vehicle rolled over three times. A year later she was killed in an accident, Her cell phone records showed that she was texting at the time of the crash.
  • 13 people riding a church mini-bus died when a texting driver in a truck crashed into the bus on a rural Texas road
  • A seven-year-old boy was hit by a texting driver while walking to the park. He survived his injuries but will spend his life in a wheelchair after becoming paralyzed from below his diaphragm.
  • A New Jersey mom faces up to ten years in prison for vehicular homicide after striking and killing a pedestrian while texting home to find out what to pick up for dinner. Cell phone records show she’d only typed in two letters of her message before the accident

Almost all survivors of texting and driving accidents say they previously believed they could safely text and drive but later testify that these life-altering accidents happen in only an instant.

If you were injured in an accident with a distracted driver in McKinney, contact our law office today.