Distracted Driving- Safety Starts with Each of Us

Distracted Driving is Quickly Becoming the Most Common Cause of Car Collisions

Distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and those were the crashes they were able to clearly identify distracted driving. Distracted driving is anything that takes a drivers focus off of the roadway. While it includes drivers being distracted looking at their electronic devices, it also includes a wide array of other behaviors.

Distracted driving can be visual- taking your eyes off the road. It can be manual, taking your hands off of the wheel. Or the distracted driving can be cognitive- taking your mind off of driving. Distracted drivers compromise the safety of drivers, passengers, pedestrians. Probably each and every one of us have dealt with another driver that you could clearly tell they was distracted and not paying any attention to what was going on around them. Those drivers that you see weaving in and out of their lane or possibly you can see the screen in front of them while traveling behind them!

Increased awareness about attentiveness and safe driving often prompt many to reconsider their daily driving habits. This awareness and subtle changes in driving behaviors can prevent most of the major causes of collisions.

Misconceptions of Distracted Driving

Each day, 9 people on average are killed and 1,000’s are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the VAST majority of these incidents, the crashes were preventable.

How smart are YOU when it comes to distracted driving? There are four really common misconceptions about distracted driving. Do you tell yourself any of the myths below when it comes to multi-tasking while you are driving?

I’M USING HANDS-FREE TECH, SO I’M NOT DISTRACTED-This is false. According to Bob Marinelli, risk control manager for Trident Public Risk Solutions, wireless technology designed to keep your attention on the road is actually causing more drivers to be distracted. Using hands’ free sometimes creates a false perception that since you are not looking or holding your phone, you are not being distracted. A study by AAA found that dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands can cause mental distractions for as long as 27 seconds.

IT ONLY TAKES A FEW SECONDS TO READ A TEXT, SO THERE’S REALLY NO HARM – Again, false. Sending or receiving a text takes your eyes off of the road for five seconds, according to the NHTSA. At 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

DISTRACTED DRIVNG IS SAFER THAN DRINKING AND DRIVING. Again, false. Not only is it false but it isn’t logical. Is this an argument for which really unsafe driving behavior is better? The fact is, drivers using cell phones have slower reaction times than drivers with a blood alcohol of .08, or the legal limit according to a study by the University of Utah. But, just as importantly a distracted driver may not even be looking at the road. It is difficult to avoid a car crash when you never see the other car!

CELL PHONE USE IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF DISTRACTED DRIVING ACCIDENTS. This is also false. More than half of the distracted driving accidents were caused by conversations with passengers, according to federal data.

If You are Engaged in a Task that Requires your Hands and Eyes- You probably ought to engage your brain as well. Yes, operating a motor vehicle is that important. Especially if you are sharing a road with me!

Sharing the Roadway- Safety Begins with Each of Us.

We all pay taxes and we make a social agreement to follow the road rules of the road when we climb behind the wheel. The social agreement is that we will all share the roadways and adhere to the rules of the roadway for everyone’s safety. No one person has a greater share or responsibility to road safety and every day it begins with each of us. Each day you have a new opportunity to buckle up, put your phone down, obey the rules of the road-including road signs and speed limits. Additionally, patience is virtue that we often forget in traffic. I know that it is hard sometimes to be patient! Aggressive driving and sometimes road rage contribute to far more crashes than one might suspect. While 94% of car crashes are caused by driver error, inpatient driving or aggressive driving or behaviors typically assigned to road rage could be linked to as many as 33% of the car crashes according to the NHTSA.

If each and every one of us paid attention with our eyes, mind and kept our hands on the wheel, we would reduce the number of needless crashes.

Avoid motor vehicle crashes by avoiding distracted driving behaviors such as multi-tasking. When your commute ends of being far longer than you planned, it is tempting to answer emails and texts while you are driving.

Safety Begins with Each Driver

No, you cannot control the driving behaviors of others, but you can control your driving behavior and your adherence to safety. Avoiding distracted driving, buckling up and refusing to drive under the influence make major contributions to everyone’s safety including your own. So, what are the odds that you will be involved in a motor vehicle? Considering the span of one’s life and if you ever occupy a vehicle, the chances are far more likely than being in say, a house fire. Yet, we make all kinds of fire evacuation plans in the buildings we work in and the houses we live. How many people know what they must do following a crash?

If you are lucky, then you just have a few, minor fender benders. In a metropolitan area, we average 3-4 motor vehicle crashes in our lives. Now, hopefully those collisions are all minor parking lot dingers that just do a little property damage. If you just have a little property damage and you are not hurt, then you probably do not need an attorney. If you are injured, then the odds are quite a bit greater that you will need a lawyer.

We represent those injured in motor vehicle incidents. While we prefer to promote safety messages to decrease your likelihood of being in a crash, we do know the statistics. We live in St. Louis and we drive the roadways of Missouri and Illinois like everyone else and we know the statistics. While I wrote this article, I heard three screeching tire mashes that sounded really familiar to the crashes I hear outside our office building about once a week. Crashes happen. However, crashes do not just happen “accidentally” which is why police reports are never titled “accident reports”. They are called “incident reports” because incidents have causes. The majority of the time, the causes of these incidents are driver errors. If you only have property damage, then you can leave it to the insurance companies to hash it out. If you are injured, you probably do not want to “hand it off” to your insurance adjuster. Before you speak with any insurance adjuster about your injuries, I encourage you to wait. No one knows within the first few days the extent.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681 for free consultation today.

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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