Are you a distracted driver? The fact is that most of us engage in some kind of distracted driving from time to time. Distractions can range from gabbing with a passenger in your car to texting or surfing the net while behind the wheel. Distracted driving is dangerous driving.
In response to the overall rise in distracted driving, the National Safety Council has deemed April National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This makes April a good time to revisit the dangers associated with distracted driving. If a distracted driver has left you or someone you care about injured, contact an experienced California car accident attorney today.
The National Safety Council reports that every day in the U.S., at least 9 people die and another 100 are injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. The Council’s major focus is in-vehicle technologies, including smartphones, dashboard touchscreens, and voice commands. It finds that all such technology poses safety threats and that the dire potential consequences aren’t worth any convenience they might offer.
The Council urges all drivers to take a #justdrive commitment. Make a personal pledge to yourself and to your loved ones to drive without distractions. In the process, you’ll help keep our roadways safer for everyone who travels on them.
The Data Is In
Driving while under the influence of distraction is exceedingly dangerous, and the statistics are in. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has plenty of sobering statistics to share:
- In 2016, nine percent of all traffic fatalities involved a distracted driver.
- In 2016, 3,450 people died in traffic accidents involving distracted drivers.
- In 2016, 562 people who weren’t in vehicles, including pedestrians and cyclists, were killed in traffic accidents involving distracted drivers.
- Drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 are the age group most closely associated with distraction-related traffic fatalities.
While NHTSA defines distracted driving as driving while engaging in any activity other than driving safely, it calls out texting as public enemy number one. When you read or type a text, your eyes leave the road for about five seconds. If you are traveling at highway speeds, this translates to driving blind for about the length of a football field. Don’t text and drive.
Bans on Handheld Devices
Distracted driving has become such a dangerous problem nationwide that many states are banning various uses of smartphones and other handheld devices. The State of California passed legislation in 2016 that banned the use of handheld devices. California later finetuned the law by clarifying that motorists may only use a single swipe motion – to address one’s GPS, for example – on a device that is mounted either on the windshield, dashboard, or center console.
Smartphones and driving simply don’t mix. It’s such a dangerous combination, in fact, that most drivers recognize the associated risk and exercise caution. When it comes to other driving distractions, however, you may not be aware of the potential dangers:
- Driving with one hand
When you get behind the wheel of your car, you’re engaging in a very complicated task and are taking on significant responsibility. Being a safe driver means driving as safely as you can at all times, and this includes keeping both of your hands squarely on the steering wheel. Using one hand for anything other than driving amounts to a dangerous driving distraction. Keeping both hands on the wheel allows you greater control of your car and is especially critical when a driving emergency arises (usually out of nowhere).
- Not being prepared
When you head out in your car, your job is to get safely from Point A to Point B – wherever these places may be. If you don’t know how to get where you’re going, if you haven’t given thought to your route, and/or if you haven’t carefully considered timing and your schedule, you are ill prepared for your trip and are far more likely to engage in driving while distracted. If, for example, you are searching for direct+ions while driving, you are dangerously distracted. By gathering what you need, planning your route, and allowing yourself plenty of time before you head out, you help ensure that you don’t engage in distracted driving.
- Hanging with your dog
It’s established that your dog is your best friend, but driving with an unrestrained pet in your vehicle is not safe. Both pets and other drivers are unpredictable. For this reason, there is simply no way to predict how a dog will react in any given driving situation. An agitated dog can quickly become a dangerous distraction – and even a physical encumbrance – when you’re driving. If your dog rides shotgun, make sure that he or she is safely restrained at all times.
- Eating behind the wheel
You’re busy, and driving is part of that. While you need the energy you get from food to help you make it through the day, eating and driving are a dangerous combination. Gobbling down a burger, fries, and shake while driving is a distraction that you simply do not need. It is far safer – and is much more relaxing – to schedule in the few minutes it takes to order a meal and to eat it in peace before getting back on the road. If you’re on a lengthy trip, making brief regular stops will help you reenergize and is always the best option.
There are probably as many unique driving distractions out there as there are drivers on the road. Identify the distractions that you are most likely to engage in, and make a personal pledge to avoid them.
If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver, Call an Experienced California Car Accident Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
Distracted drivers are responsible for many dangerous accidents on our roadways. The dedicated car accident lawyers at Arash Law in California are here to fight for your rights and to help ensure that you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. We’re available 24/7, so please don’t hesitate to call our office at (888)488-1391 today.