Not Just Cell Phones Distract Drivers and Cause Fatal Accidents

When you think of a distracted driver, you probably envision someone texting or talking on their phone. This is today’s stereotype of a distracted driver, but drivers can recklessly lose focus due to a variety of stimuli – with fatal consequences.

Certainly texting and driving is a deadly and too prevalent combination. Some estimate that drivers texting behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to be in a serious crash. According to federal government reporting,14 percent of all fatalities in crashes categorized as “distracted affected” were linked to drivers on cell phones. This is for 2015, the most recent reporting year.

Cell Phone Use and Fatal Car Accidents

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost a third of 18-to-64-year-olds drive and read or send texts and emails. Drivers in their 20s are particularly dangerous when it comes to deadly crashes and cell phones. In 2015, drivers age 20-29 constituted about a quarter of all drivers in fatal, distracted-affected crashes but were a third of all drivers using cell phones who were in a deadly accident.

Between 2010 and 2015, total motor vehicle fatalities increased about 6 percent. Yet in the same time frame, deaths in distracted driving accidents rose 12 percent. Growing cell phone use by drivers accounts for some of this jump, but there are other distractions that result in serious crashes and innocent lives lost.

Types of Serious Driver Distractions

Two out of every 10 motor vehicle crashes involve distracted driving in some form, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, a nonprofit group of law enforcement, educators and others working to reduce traffic fatalities in the Show Me State.

There are many different driver distractions that can cause serious, even fatal car accidents.   The three main types of distractions are:

·         Visual – anytime the driver’s eyes leave the road

·         Manual – anytime a driver’s hands leave the wheel

·         Cognitive – anytime a driver’s focus shifts from the road ahead

All can be triggered by disruptions either outside the vehicle or inside the vehicle.

Outside or external distractions include billboards, scenery, buildings – any object along the road that drivers dangerously pay too much attention to.

Internal sources of distraction are those that emanate from inside the vehicle. These include eating or smoking while driving, adjusting the radio controls, reaching for some other object, checking directions on a GPS device, and other passengers whom drivers engage with.

And, of course, cell phones. That’s why Missouri law prohibits texting and driving by drivers 21 and younger, and bans all truck drivers from hand-held cell phones for any use while on the road.

If you were seriously hurt or had a family member killed in a car or truck accident, contact a motor vehicle accident attorney, who can investigate whether distractions of any kind significantly played a role.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles September 29, 2017