April was supposed to be National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. But as with so many other things in today’s world, this 30-day educational effort for one of the most dangerous and negligent driving behaviors has been postponed. Despite there being fewer cars on the road for the time being, distracted driving still poses an especially high risk to others in Missouri.
Missouri a “Worst State” for Distracted Driving
Missouri is one of the “top” states for distracted driving. Moneywise.com analyzed several sources of data, including statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to compile a list of the leading states for distracted driving. It released this list in February.
Missouri ranked 15th in the Moneywise “Top 25 Worst States for Distracted Driving.” From 2017 through 218, 153 people were killed in Missouri by distracted drivers, per the report.
Last April the NHTSA published a report on fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers (“Distracted Driving in Fatal Crashes, 2017”). The data showed that:
· In 2017, 3,166 people nationwide died in distracted driving accidents
· In 2017, 9% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes were related to distracted driving
· In 2017, 599 walkers, bicyclists and others not in a vehicle were killed by distracted drivers
The NHTSA’s report on distracted driving fatal crashes for 2018 has not been released yet.
Drivers Distracted by Their Cell Phones
The National Safety Council, which annually conducts the National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, cites drivers on their cell phones as a leading cause of distracted driving. This danger persists even when drivers are using their phones hands-free.
In its white paper “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-Free Cell Phones is Risky Behavior,” the NSC counters the perception that driving and using a cell phone without holding it is safe.
The research concludes that multitasking is not as easy as many people believe – especially when it comes to driving. In fact, there is no such thing as multitasking. The human brain can’t do two things at once. Rather, it switches between tasks, thereby diverting attention for a period from each of the tasks.
In other words, drivers on their cell phones lose focus on the road as their brains switch from one task to another.
This may be dangerous enough when traffic is light. But it could bring catastrophic results when traffic ahead is stopped or coming to a crawl. Drivers distracted by their phones may be slow to react properly, causing multi-vehicles crashes, serious injuries, and fatalities.
But beyond slowed reaction times, drivers on their cell phones may also be prone to swerving out of their lanes unexpectedly, crashing into vehicles or making them swerve into traffic as well.
Our national month-long effort to help prevent distracted driving crashes may not be occurring this year, but their risk to innocent drivers and passengers remains.
If you had family member die or you were seriously hurt in a crash caused by a distracted driver, speak with a car accident lawyer about your legal rights to just compensation from those at fault.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog April 9, 2020