With people relying on their electronic devices for everything from ordering food to communicating with friends, the number of distracted driving accidents continues to increase across the country. Drivers must look away from the road to pay attention to their devices, and they shift their thoughts to process whatever information they are receiving or sending. When they do this, their minds are not capable of reacting as quickly as they could if they were focusing only on driving. Several states have banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving and that now includes Georgia.
New Developments Reported By The Insurance Information Institute
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that distracted driving was connected to over 3,000 fatal crashes in 2014. This number represented 10 percent of the total fatal accidents for the year. During the same year, over 430,000 people were injured in accidents that were caused by distracted driving. Although information about each crash was not available, the NHTSA confirmed that at least 385 of the fatal crashes reported in 2014 were specifically tied to cell phone use.
According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, state bans on cell phones have reduced the amount of cell phone use behind the wheel but have not resulted in a reduction of crashes. In statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control, over 40 percent of high school students admitted to texting or emailing within the past month while driving. Another study by the NHTSA showed that distracted driving crashes cost the United States $594 billion in harm to society and $277 billion in economic loss.
Causes Of Distracted Driving
Cell phone use is not the only cause of distracted driving. Although it is one of the most preventable and problematic issues, drowsiness is another serious type of distracted driving. Drowsy drivers are not able to focus or react as well as alert drivers. Fatigue is especially a concern among long-haul truck drivers. It was a factor in over 30 percent of large truck crashes last year. Looking for items in the car, eating, talking to passengers and trying to read maps are also common distractions that lead to accidents.
The overall problem of distracted driving is not improving, and this was reflected in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This report found that about 70 percent of American drivers admitted to using their phones while driving within the past month. Another 30 percent said that they had sent text messages within the last 30 days while they were behind the wheel. Several federal agencies have been calling for complete nationwide bans on cell phone use while driving to help reduce the problem. However, legislation against the practice has only been implemented in a handful of states.
Several cellular carriers have been working on technologies that block texts and calls while people are driving. There are some apps in existence that do this, and a few newer vehicles with luxury safety features can connect to certain apps as well.
In one court case, a woman who suffered a spinal injury was given over $20 million after being hit by an employee of a major corporation who was driving a company truck. The employee was using a cell phone at the time of the crash. This case set an important precedent for injuries caused by distracted drivers who use cell phones.
Learn more about distracted driving and how to avoid the temptation of this costly and dangerous practice.