We have all been behind someone at a traffic light using their phone and failing to go when the light turns green. Cell phone use, even when stopped, is a form of distracted driving.
While advanced safety technology has improved cars and reduced fatalities, the incidences of distracted driving in Houston have significantly increased, particularly over the past ten years.
Nine Lives are Lost Every Day From Distracted Driving
The increase is likely due to the increased use of smartphones for calling and texting. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every day in the U.S., about nine people lose their lives due to distracted driving, and there are over 1,000 people hurt in car wrecks that involve distracted driving.
Facts About Distracted Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
* Nine people are killed, and more than 1,000 people are injured in car wrecks that were reported to involve a distracted driver every day in the United States.
* Distractions include taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off what you are doing.
- In a recent year, more than 3,400 people died in car accidents that were reported to involve a distracted driver and another 448,000 people were injured.
- Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries included cell phone use as the major distraction.
- The proportion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of a fatal crash has increased every year.
- *25% of drivers in the United States reported that they “regularly or fairly often” talk on their cell phones while driving.
*75% of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 29 reported that they spoke on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days, and nearly 40% reported that they talk on their cell phone “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving.
*52% of U.S. drivers ages 18-29 reported texting or e-mailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days, and more than a quarter reported texting or e-mailing “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving.
* Distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents in the United States. A fatal car accident occurs many times every day due to distracted driving.
Three Main Driving Distractions
Distracted driving is driving while your attention is diverted from driving. There are three main distractions for drivers; they are:
* Visual distractions
* Manual distractions and
* Cognitive distractions
are the easiest to understand, and they are activities that divert your eyes off the road and onto something else. Such as looking at a text or even interacting with another passenger.
involve taking your hands off the wheel to tend to other activities such as eating, drinking, or adjusting the radio.
It can be things like daydreaming or taking your mind off driving. Many sources can lead to distracted driving.
Adjusting the radio, inputting an address into a GPS, turning to speak to a passenger, or tending to a child can all lead to a severe accident if you are not careful.
The problem of distracted driving is significant and has increased with technology in the last 15 years. Today, our society is one that is “connected” and has increased the number of car accidents because of distractions related to distracted driving.
Last year alone, almost 20% of injury accidents were from distracted driving. To give you an idea of how connected our society is, more than 200 billion text messages are exchanged monthly in the United States!
Most Americans are aware of how dangerous driving can be while behind the wheels of a vehicle. The problem is so prevalent that numerous ad campaigns speak on the potentially hazardous environment that is created by drunk driving.
Younger Drivers are More Susceptible to Distracted Driving
Studies have shown that younger drivers under the age of 20 are at an increased risk of accidents by distraction and have the highest percentage of distracted-related fatal accidents.
Please watch where you are going – you may not get a second chance to make the unfortunate decision to drive distracted.
It stands to reason that the group that is most at risk, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration, is drivers that are under 25 years of age. This group is 3% more likely than older, established drivers to text while driving.
This can largely be attributed to the type of interconnected mentality that has developed, primarily based on technology usage.
Younger drivers want to access smartphones to send text messages, listen to music, or log onto social media sites – all while behind the wheel of a vehicle.
In fact, according to the research, while 95% of drivers over the age of 45 felt that text was “very unsafe” while driving, only 60% of drivers that were within the 18-20 age bracket thought that it was not okay to send a text while driving.
Take the Focused Driver Pledge!
The Just Drive Pledge:
I pledge to Just Drive for my safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose not to drive distracted in any way – I will not:
- Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
- Text or send Snapchats
- Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
- Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Snapchat, or other social media
- Check or send emails
- Take selfies or film videos
- Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
- Call or message someone else when I know they are driving
Examples of Distractions While Driving
Some examples of distracted driving include texting, using a cell phone, eating, reading, talking or arguing with passengers, caring for a child, changing the radio station, and putting on makeup.
Texting is one of the most extreme forms of distraction because it checks all the boxes of distraction categories.
How Dangerous Is Texting While Driving in Texas?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that when driving at 55 MPH, sending or reading a text will take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds.
This length of time is enough to travel the distance of a football field. You can easily see how an accident could be more apt to occur under these conditions.
Cell Phone Laws in Texas
Texas law prohibits the use of cell phones or other handheld devices under some conditions while driving.
Drivers cannot text while they are behind the wheel, and they may not read or write emails while driving.
New drivers with learner’s permits can use no handheld device during their first six months of driving. All drivers are prohibited from using handheld devices in school zones, and school bus operators cannot use a cell phone when children are on the bus.
Besides, local municipalities may have specific ordinances and restrictions that apply to cell phone use.
Proving another driver was texting before an accident can be challenging. A thorough investigation is usually needed with serious injury or wrongful death cases. Consult an experienced personal injury attorney for help.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
Laws alone are not enough to prevent distracted driving. Take precautions to ensure that you do not allow yourself to become distracted when you drive.
Put your phone away while driving; if you need to use it, pull over. Do not eat or drink while you are driving. Teach teens safe driving habits and prohibit them from using their phones when they drive. Parents can place controls on their teen’s cell phone use.
Do not get behind the wheel if you are fatigued or if you have been drinking. Always allow a safe distance between vehicles.
What to Do If You Are In an Accident With a Distracted Driver?
If you suspect the driver who caused the accident was distracted, it is helpful to document the matter. The following can help your claim:
- Statements from the driver like “I am sorry I was on the phone” are important admissions.
- Seeing the driver on the phone.
- Witnesses saw cell phone use by the driver at the moment of impact.
- Obtain the name and phone number of any witness.
Shoot a video on your cellphone of the other driver’s response. Always take photographs of the vehicles and crash site- if possible.
If You Were Injured in the Crash
Always get appropriate and needed medical care. Looking after your health is your number one priority.
Review your insurance policy to see if you have benefits you can take advantage of, like rental car coverage or PIP.
Keep all paperwork related to your medical treatment from the accident.
Call the Best Houston Car Accident Lawyer You Can Find
If you or a loved one were hurt due to a distracted driver, you might have compensation for your damages. The negligent driver may owe you money for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.