When it comes to car accidents and injuries, distracted driving is among the leading causes. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving had led to 3,142 fatalities in 2020. In addition, more than 424,000 people were injured in collisions involving distracted drivers in 2019, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Distracted driving occurs when a driver’s focus is diverted from the road to something else while behind the wheel. After all, a mentally demanding endeavor like driving makes it impossible for people to safely multitask. In this article, we’ll be discussing some of the most common causes of distracted driving.
Using the Phone to Call or Text
Distracted driving accidents are almost always caused by people talking on their cell phones or sending text messages while behind the wheel. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, a whopping 26% of all car accidents involve mobile phones.
Taking your attention away from the road for even a moment could be a catastrophic blunder. At a speed of 55 mph, a vehicle covers 80 feet per second, while the average time it takes to read a text is close to five seconds. In other words, you can drive well over a football field’s length without your eyes on the road by texting.
Chatting with Passengers
If you’re in a car with another person, it’s only normal to engage in conversation. However, staying focused on the road is always more important. Even though looking at a passenger during a conversation may seem appropriate, doing so while driving can be dangerous.
Pets or Children
While it’s not a good idea to keep your pet roaming loose in the car while you’re driving, many people still do it. According to a poll, some 84% of respondents indicated they had taken their pets along for the ride while they were driving. However, merely 16% of pet owners stated they employed a restraint mechanism. Unfortunately, pets can become a major distraction when moving around inside a vehicle which can lead to accidents.
And as any parent can confirm, taking kids along in a car can be just as dangerous. Researchers have found that children in cars are four times more distracting than adults, while infants are eight times as much. When they want your attention, they let you know. They can be so demanding that it’s easy to lose focus on the road.
Reaching For Items In The Back
The passenger seat is the best place to keep your essentials close at hand. In fact, research shows that grabbing something behind you while driving, such as a bag or water bottle, increases your risk of an accident by nine times. Taking your hands off the steering wheel and your attention away from the road is a sure sign that you’re distracted while driving. Almost anything you want to grab can wait until the vehicle has stopped.
Consuming Food or Drinks
According to a recent survey, 70% of drivers polled admitted to either eating or drinking while operating their vehicle. Driving while eating or drinking means using only one hand. That’s why spilling a drink or dropping food can cause dangerous accidents.
It’s not surprising that those who eat while driving has an increased risk of an accident by 80%, considering the possibility of burns or a greasy steering wheel. If you need to have a drink, use a spill-proof container, and don’t keep it in your hand too long. Finding somewhere to stop to eat is the safest option when hunger strikes.
Adjusting the Audio or Controls
If you’re constantly scanning your music or fiddling with your car’s air conditioning or heating, you may not be paying attention to the road as much as you believe. Some people might feel like pushing a few buttons is insignificant, but it takes your concentration away from the task at hand if you need to turn away to do it. It doesn’t matter how inconsequential it may seem; it can make the difference between a catastrophe or a pleasant journey.
Listening to a Favorite Song
It’s been shown that the kind of music you listen to while driving, along with the volume at which you play it, can influence your performance. Israeli researchers found that inexperienced drivers who played their favorite music were more likely to make mistakes and miscalculations. On the other hand, they found that teenagers listening to music they had not chosen, such as light jazz or easy listening, exhibited a 20% drop in poor behaviors when they were driving. This doesn’t mean that you can’t listen to music while driving. As long as you lower the volume and keep your attention on the road, you’re good to go.
Checking the GPS
While driving, most people rely heavily on GPS systems to help them get from one point to another. It’s no longer a question of whether or not to use a GPS; it has become the norm. However, it’s just as risky to set up a route on a GPS while you are driving as it is to text. Taking your eyes off the highway even for a second to check the directions can result in calamity. Rather than staring at the screen when using GPS, place it somewhere where you can see it clearly and adjust the volume so you can hear the directions instead.
There will be moments when you need to make adjustments to your seat, roll the windows up, or fix your car’s rearview and side mirrors. However, because they take focus away from the road, you should pull over whenever you need to do them as much as possible. When this is not an option for you, you should ensure that you are familiar enough with your car’s controls to be able to adjust them while maintaining your focus on the road.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved In A Distracted Driving Accident
Getting hit by a distracted driver can happen even if you’re driving carefully, following the rules of the road, and exercising extreme caution. If you have been injured due to someone else’s distracted driving, we encourage you to reach out to us today. Our personal injury lawyers in Chicago are dedicated to aggressively pursuing those responsible for your injuries in order to recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Contact us today to see how we can help.