The Epidemic of Distracted Driving
Why Inattention is So Deadly on American Roadways
It only takes a few seconds to check a text while driving.
Yet in that same amount of time you can change your life — or someone else’s life — forever.
Americans are addicted to cars and smartphones. Unfortunately, this is a mix with often deadly consequences.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 Americans were killed by distracted driving in 2019, a 10-percent increase over the prior year.
It’s a problem that has only seemed to get worse in recent years, despite rising awareness.
What is Distracted Driving?
The NHTSA describes distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
According to the NHTSA, “texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.”
In addition to 3,142 unnecessary deaths, distracted driving is also responsible for countless serious injuries.
How Widespread is the Problem?
According to federal data, roughly 660,000 people are texting and driving at any given time. An astonishing 6 out of 10 crashes involve young drivers that are related to driver inattention.
Clearly, drivers do not take the problem of inattention seriously enough. While tougher laws and awareness campaigns are part of the solution, automakers and tech companies are also developing tools that limit the ability of drivers to use their devices in vehicles. These devices also limit the use of hands-free voice and text options. While some drivers believe this approach is safer than texting, studies have shown that drivers only process about 50-percent of their normal amount of information when using them.
Despite these tools, tougher laws and millions spent on awareness, rates of distracted driving continue to climb. The adoption of autonomous cars and trucks, however, may be a solution to the problem. Unfortunately, we remain many years from that possibility.
Until then, it is incumbent upon us to limit the damage caused by distracted driving through the tools at our disposal.
When that damage cannot be limited, the legal system is there to help victims receive fair compensation for what they have suffered due to the negligence of others.
While no legal judgment can fully repair the damage caused by driver inattention, it can help victims who have suffered serious physical or mental injuries begin to get their lives back on track.
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