Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve distracted driving. Distracted driving killed 3,477 Americans in 2015, and injured 391,000. More than one-fifth, or 21 percent, of all teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 who were killed in accidents were distracted at the time of the accident.
Many teenagers are in near-constant contact with their friends on phones. But, cellphones and other electronic devices are a leading cause of distraction for drivers today.
Older, more-experienced drivers need to be careful to keep their attention on the road as much as teens. But, young people have less experience driving than most older Americans, and distracted driving can be even more dangerous.
In addition to electronics, drivers of all ages can have their attention taken away by food and drinks, conversations with other people in the car, or even events happening outside their vehicle.
What can you do to keep your teen safe? The best thing a parent can do to keep their child from becoming a victim or injured in a wreck caused by distracted driving is to talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving. Also, become familiar with local and state laws. Let your teen know what you – and society – expect from them, and what the penalties will be for violating the rules.
Best of all, lead by example. Never allow devices, people or anything else take your attention away from the road when you drive. Your child just may learn to do the same.
If you’re driving down the highway, do you think there is ever a circumstance when it’s safe or smart to close your eyes for five seconds?
Of course you don’t. Keeping your eyes on the road is one of the first things we all learn about safe driving. So why would anyone ever think it is okay to text when behind the wheel, or do anything else that takes your attention from driving?
It takes about five seconds, on average, to read or send a text. Not a lot of time. But, in that span of time, with your eyes on your phone and not on the road, a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field. In that instant, over that distance, a life can be taken—maybe even yours. Distracted driving killed 3,477 people on America’s roads in 2015.
If you’re caught texting and driving you’ll be pulled over and ticketed because you’re putting your life and the life of others at risk. Unlike nearly every US state, Texas has no state-wide law banning texting while driving. Only Texas, Arizona, Missouri, and Montana have yet to ban the practice. In fact, many of the most populous states have already beefed up their existing bans or have passed more-stringent hands-free laws, banning all handheld use of phones, tablets, and gaming devices while operating an automobile.
We all know that the screens on our phones and tablets can sometimes seem irresistible. Most of us have been scolded for bringing a device to the dinner table, taking out a phone in the middle of a party, or checking Instagram or Facebook during an office meeting. But when you’re behind the wheel, being distracted by your phone is more than a social faux pas; it’s an invitation to a deadly disaster.
Distracted driving is also about more than just electronic diversions. It’s anything you’re doing behind the wheel that undermines safe driving, including eating and drinking, fiddling with the music or the A/C, or checking yourself out in the mirror. Recently, a driver even became distracted by her dog who was riding with her. She took her eyes off the road, crossed the center line, and crashed head-on into a sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle in Davis County, Utah.
So during April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, make a positive, lifesaving change that will make you safer year-round. Before you start the car, shut down your phone. Put it out of reach so you won’t be tempted by it. Recommit yourself to safe driving by not giving in to distraction and by focusing solely on the road. You’ll save yourself the cost of a ticket and maybe even save a life.
EverQuote fielded a national online survey to 2,300 licensed American drivers on their driving habits June 18–22, 2016. The survey found drivers are unaware of how often they are actually using their phone behind the wheel and have clear misconceptions about what it takes to be a safe driver. When the survey responses were paired with actual driving data from our safe-driving app, EverDrive, the discrepancies between perceptions and reality become even more surprising.
The survey was divided 52% female and 48% male. The survey was split by age as follows: 18–24 16%, 25–34 23%, 35–44 19%, 45–54 18%, 55–64 15%, 65+ 9%. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.2%.
We have summarized the major findings in the following EverQuote Distracted Driving Report:
1. The Impulse to Text Back Is Real and Dangerous
Americans feel the need to answer texts fast. In fact, 55% respond to text messages right away or within 5 minutes.
The majority of adults (83.9%) feel the need to answer text messages within an hour or less, while only 16.1% feel the need to respond after an hour or more.
Males and females generally feel the same way, and age has a slight influence in how quickly Americans feel the need to respond—with aging adults more likely to take longer to feel the need to reply than younger age groups.
2. Most Americans Think They’re Safe Drivers
Over 96% of respondents believe that they are safe drivers behind the wheel.
Slightly more male than female participants consider themselves unsafe drivers and age did not appear to be a major influence on responses.
3. Americans See Themselves as Safe, but Not Other Drivers
Americans overwhelmingly feel that they are safe drivers themselves, but they don’t see other motorists on the road in the same light.
Over 96% think they are safe drivers, but 37% think less than half of other drivers on the road are safe.
86% of Americans feel neutral or disagree that the majority of drivers are safe behind the wheel (11% strongly disagree).
Younger adults tend to agree that drivers are unsafe more often than older age groups do.
4. Divided On App Prevention
Americans are divided on whether or not they’d let a mobile app control their phone use—52.4% of Americans would let an app prevent them from using their cell phones behind the wheel, and 47.6% say no way.
As Americans age, they are more likely to allow an app to prevent phone use while driving.
Older males, 65+, were more likely to say yes than the same-age females, whereas females aged 35-44 were 15% more likely to say yes than same-age males.
5. Americans Say They’re Safe Drivers, but Are They?
Though Americans overwhelmingly consider themselves safe drivers (96%), the majority of them admit to using their phones while driving in the past 30 days—61% have used their cell phones on some drives, most drives or every drive.
6% every drive
10% most drives
45% some drives
While 56% report using their phone on at least some drives, 96% of drivers used their phones according to EverDrive data.
American drivers spend .4 miles on the phone distracted for every 11 miles driven. That equals 114 billion distracted miles, and 4.5 millions trips Americans could take around the world without looking up from their phones.
6. Speeding Isn’t Everything Over the Limit
Even though speeding 10 MPH over the limit can increase crash risk by up to 9.1%, over one-half of all driving time is spent at least 10 MPH over the legal limit.
The majority (42%) consider drivers to be speeding on the highway only if they’re 10-14 MPH over the speed limit. A scary 19% don’t see drivers as speeding until they’re 15-19 MPH over the limit.
10% believe 20 MPH over the limit isn’t speeding.
7. Americans Feel States Should Do More
61% of adults believe that their state does not do enough to prevent phone use behind the wheel. Of these adults, 55% admit to some phone use while driving in the past 30 days, and 12% admit to using their phone on most or all drives.
Americans appear to know that using their phones while driving is dangerous and believe their state does not do enough to stop them from the bad habit—however, only a little over half (52%) are willing to allow a mobile app prevent them from that use.
For drivers that don’t care about the state, 30% admit to phone use on most or all drives.
8. Alcohol Is Still the Scariest Danger
The majority of Americans (55%) feel that seeing other drivers drinking alcohol behind the wheel is the scariest action, followed by phone use and speeding. However, the majority admit to using their phone and only see speeding as driving 10-14 MPH over the limit.
20% see drivers using their phones as the scariest action to see another driver doing.
Only 2.6% view interacting with passengers as the scariest, even though 57% of distracted driving accidents are caused by passenger interactions.
76% of phone users are scared of having an accident while using the phone behind the wheel.
9. Americans Know the Dangers of Distracted Driving
The majority of Americans recognize the danger of using their phones and are afraid of getting into an accident behind the wheel. The fear of being bad role models or getting caught by authorities is minimal.
55% are afraid of getting into an accident
10. Americans Speak Up About Dangers
The majority of people (60%) state that they do ask a driver to stop using their phone if they’re feeling unsafe.
Females responded “yes” approximately 10% more than males.
Younger age groups have asked driver to stop phone use more often than older Americans.
11. Americans Think They’re Safer Than Self-Driving Cars
Despite the fact that experts predict self-driving cars will reduce crashes by 90%, 81% of adults still would feel safer driving themselves.
That perception may arise from the fact that the majority of Americans consider themselves safe drivers, despite the reality their behavior: how often they use their phones while driving and at what point they consider themselves speeding.
Females feel they are safer driving themselves than in a self-driving car slightly more than males feel and this belief increases with age for both genders.
Only 19% of drivers feel they would be safer in a self-driving car.
Investigators said a 19-year-old driver was texting before getting in an accident involving two school buses and a tractor-trailer near Gray Summit, Mo., in 2010. Credit Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press
Thousands of people die in distracted driving accidents every year, a topic we have discussed in length because it doesn’t seem to be changing.
But now, California is hoping to do something about it.
This week, as a new law went into effect in the state with an aim toward cutting the number of drivers using smartphones, federal data is scheduled to be released that shows that more than 3,400 people were killed in accidents that involved at least one distracted driver in 2015.
With its new law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September and effective as of Sunday, California has gone further than most states in prohibiting the use of cellphones, banning drivers from even holding mobile devices while driving.
The law builds on earlier legislation that prevented drivers from talking and texting but did not prohibit them from streaming video, for instance, or using apps like Facebook and Twitter.
Some drivers use features other than texting and talking while on the road, which can result in deadly crashes. Late last month, a family filed a lawsuit against Apple, over a 2014 accident in which a driver using FaceTime crashed into the family’s car, killing their 5-year-old daughter.
Jennifer Ryan, the director of state relations for the travel organization AAA, said that the California measure matched a larger trend where states were bringing legislation up to date with contemporary phones. Many of the extant laws were passed before smartphones offered the number of interactive features that they do today, she said.
“We certainly anticipate there to be many bills introduced this year,” she added.
Ms. Ryan said that California’s provisions were particularly broad and although it was “definitely a bellwether state,” states tended to evaluate policy solutions to distracted driving independently. AAA expects to see legislation introduced to address distracted driving in about 10 states, including Massachusetts, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia and Iowa.
New statistics that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to officially release this week show that 272 teenagers were killed in 2015 in what the agency described as distraction-affected crashes. They also show that 3,263 of the 3,477 people killed in such crashes that year had been distracted while driving.
California’s law goes beyond even what the federal agency recommends to prevent distracted driving, according to Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the agency.
“We certainly have encouraged states to adopt ‘no texting and driving’ laws, that’s been a big focus,” Mr. Thomas said. “The most recent action has been on what can be done on manufacturers of both cars and devices on how to minimize distraction.”
But even given California’s comparatively extensive law, some experts are unconvinced that legislation alone can significantly reduce the threat of distracted driving.
Steve Finnegan, the government affairs manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California, said that although the new legislation was “a step in the right direction,” it did not address “the complete issue of distracted driving.”
“One of the bigger issues is cognitive distraction,” Mr. Finnegan said. “It’s not what your hands are doing; it’s what your brain is doing.”
David G. Kidd, a senior researcher at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an independent research organization that focuses on reducing injuries and fatalities from crashes, agreed. He said that research on public policy that banned smartphone use had returned mixed results.
“There is evidence that if you do pass a law and have strong enforcement, it can change behavior,” he said. “But we don’t see a reduction in crashes that is consistent with that change in behavior.”
The institute is more focused on encouraging automakers to adapt crash avoidance technologies such as forward collision warning and automatic emergency breaking, both technological measures that are intended to help prevent front-to-rear crashes.
Those systems “are not going to reduce driver distraction, but they will help cope with some of the consequences that come with drivers not paying attention,” Mr. Kidd said.
Ms. Ryan said that drivers’ safety ultimately rests in their own hands and those of their fellow motorists.
“We really want to emphasize to motorists that driving is a very demanding task,” she said. “People really need to pay attention to the task at hand and not drive distracted.”
HG.org defines a catastrophic injury as the “consequences of an injury that permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”
A catastrophic injury or illness usually occurs suddenly, without warning and can leave a person suffering from permanent disabilities for the rest of his/her life.
Catastrophic injuries are any injuries that have serious, long-term effects on the victim. Catastrophic injuries can often put serious stress on the victim’s family because they may need constant supervision or assistance for the rest of their lives, as well as a lifetime of rehabilitation and medical bills.
If a catastrophic injury was caused by the negligent or intentional act of another, or by a dangerous or defective product, a personal injury claim by the victim will be an integral factor in determining his/her future quality of life, including the quality of the medical care and other support he/she will receive.
While some catastrophic injuries may heal over time, in the vast majority of cases these injuries stay with a person for the rest of his life and often prevent him from returning to work or from being able to perform basic tasks. Because of the nature of these injuries, victims are often entitled to much higher benefit claims than other accident victims.
Call us today to learn more about how we can help you or to set up a free consultation. Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm. Our trial-ready Dallas personal injury lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Transportation Department, distracted driving is “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.”
Distracted driving is not limited to texting or making calls on a cellular device; any activity that diverts a driver’s attention puts that driver, passengers, and others sharing the road at serious risk.
Traffic safety experts classify distractions into three main types: Manual, visual and cognitive.
Manual distractions are those where you move your hands away from the task of controlling the vehicle. Reaching for a soda in the drink carrier is an example of a manual distraction.
Visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road. You drop your soda, and when it spills all over the floor of the car, you look down at your ruined shoes and stained slacks: that’s a visual distraction.
A cognitive distraction is when you’re mind wanders away from the task of driving. You start to consider whether you can afford to replace the clothing you just ruined, and what stores have bargains this week, and you’re no longer paying attention to the essential job of driving. Bingo: cognitive distraction.
The NHTSA has gone on to point out because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver it is by far the most alarming distraction.
These astonishing numbers regrettably shine some light on the possibility of why almost nine people a day are killed and another 1,181 are injured in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver.
According to the NHTSA, drivers in the 20s make up 23 percent of drivers in all fatal vehicle accidents, and 27 percent of all reported distracted drivers. Out of the numbers listed above, 38 percent of the distracted drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes were reported to be in their 20s.
In a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 90 percent of drivers recognized the danger from cell phone distractions and found it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send e-mail while driving. Nevertheless, 35 percent of these same people admitted to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving in the previous month. Similarly, two-thirds of the survey respondents admitted to talking on a cell phone, even though 88 percent found it a threat to safety.
Distracted driving in the U.S. is a widespread and dangerous habit, practiced both brazenly and surreptitiously by so many motorists that police are being forced to get creative, but still can’t seem to make much headway.
In Bethesda, Maryland, a police officer disguised himself as a homeless man, stood near a busy intersection and radioed ahead to officers down the road about texting drivers. In two hours, police gave out 56 tickets.
State troopers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have been known to patrol in a tractor-trailer so they can sit up high and spot drivers texting behind the wheel.
In West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, an officer regularly pedals around town on his bicycle, pulls up to drivers at stoplights and hands out $105 tickets.
“It’s everyone, kids, older people — everyone. When I stop someone, they say, ‘You’re right. I know it’s dangerous, but I heard my phone go off and I had to look at it,’ ” said West Bridgewater Officer Matthew Monteiro.
Fourteen states bar drivers from using hand-held cellphones at all, including talking.
Although more focus has been placed on distracted driving, the problem only seems to be getting worse.
New York Citations Issued:
2011 – 9,000
2015 – 85,000
Massachusetts Citations Issued:
2011 – 1,100
2015 – 6,100
In California, the number of people found guilty of texting while driving climbed from under 3,000 in 2009 to over 31,000 in 2015.
Although these figures seem high, it is important to realize how difficult enforcement is, in part because of the difficulty in proving texting violations in states that allow drivers to talk on hand-held cellphones.
Deterrent campaigns continue to evolve and range from media campaigns educating on the dangers of distracted driving, to the encouragement of defensive driving and even as far as some states increasing the penalties, including Louisiana, which raised its fine for first-time offenders from $175 to up to $500.
Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm. Our Dallas car accident lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation. Call us today for a free consult to find out more.
All of us have different distractions that we face while driving, the most common of them being our cell phones. No matter what the distraction is, distracted driving is dangerous, not only to us but to other drivers and passengers onthe road.
State Trooper Kills Two In Tragic Accident
Kimberly Schlau of O’Fallon, Illinois witnessed the tragedy distracted driving can cause, when her two teenage daughters were killed instantly by a distracted state trooper. The trooper is believed to have been speeding to another crash and on his phone and on-board computer simultaneously when he struck the girls’ car. To honor her daughters’ memory, Schlau set up a foundation to provide educational opportunities to others in Southern Illinois. However, she is reminded each day what a dangerous and deadly act distracted driving is.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States at least 9 people are killed each day in accidents involving at least one distracted driver, while more than 1,150 are injured. Schlau now takes time to visit police departments all over to talk to them about her daughters’ story. This is to help new and current officers realize that no matter the situation, they still need to work to keep others safe. She hopes her story will inspire officers to do more to be the safe drivers they want us to be.
When we are behind the wheel, we never realize the impact our actions could have. Each day, Schlau sees her daughters’ friends growing into women, while her girls will always stay the same age. Her youngest daughter has had to grow up without the guidance of her older sisters, and even their family pets felt the loss of loved ones. By one person’s actions, the Schlau family will never be the same again.
Distracted driving may seem harmless – one text here, one Tweet there – but at somepoint that one tweet or text will change someone’s life for the worse. If you get behind the wheel, the best thing to do is to put your phone away and focus on the road ahead of you, not a conversation online.
Schlau’s daughters are proof that no one is exempt from the dangers of distracted driving. Even a police officer who is responsible for making us uphold safe driving habits, can cause the death or injury of others by allowing themselves to be distracted behind the wheel. No matter what is going on around you, when you are behind the wheel your focus should always be your safety and the safety of others.
Motor vehicle accidents occur all over the country. With more laws coming out to protect the citizens of each state, there is one law that is beginning to pick up speed, popularity, and controversy. Maine has just inducted the Hands-Free Driving law, and it causes many people to wonder; “is Texas next?”