Beware of Distracted Drivers!

According to recent studies, there were roughly 222 million drivers on the U.S. roadways in 2016. This represented about a 2% increase from the previous year. With so many drivers on the roads and with the ever-increasing prevalence of technology around us (i.e. smart phones, navigation and entertainment systems, etc.), it’s no wonder that “distracted driving” is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of injury and death on the roadways.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an executive branch agency charged with a number of responsibilities involving transportation safety, including writing and enforcing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, licensing vehicle manufacturers and importers, and developing vehicle safety testing protocols. In order to make our roadways safer, NHTSA conducts studies to try and find out what causes motor vehicle crashes. NHTSA states that “distracted driving” resulted in 3,450 traffic fatalities in 2016. NHTSA also found that distracted driving resulted in 391,000 injuries in motor vehicle crashes in 2015.

NHTSA defines “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 NHTSA, the most alarming of these distractions is texting while driving. NHTSA’s website states that “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.” https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving. Other sources confirm these troubling statistics. The National Safety Council found that cell phone use while driving leads to 6 million accidents per year. Another study concluded that people who text while driving are 6 times more likely to get into an accident than those who drive while intoxicated. This is not meant to diminish the danger of driving while intoxicated, but is simply meant to illustrate the prevalence of texting while driving and how often it results in crashes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, teen drivers were the largest age group reported as being distracted at the time of fatal crashes. Yet another study on the subject found that teenagers are 400% more likely to get into an accident while texting and 11 teenagers die every day due to texting and driving. Distracted driving endangers the lives of pedestrians as well. NHTSA estimates that distracted drivers killed 520 pedestrians in the U.S. in 2014.

So what should we make of these concerning trends and what can we do to address the harm caused by distracted drivers? First and foremost, whenever you are behind the wheel, you should always keep your eyes on the road where they belong. AT&T’s recent Ad slogan “it can wait” is a great reminder that no call or text is worth a life, whether it’s your life or someone else’s. Unfortunately, we each share the road with lots of other people. Just because YOU are following the rules does not mean the person next to you is doing the same. If you or your loved one becomes the victim of a distracted driver, you need a partner you can count on to help you down the path toward physical, emotional, and financial peace. We are that partner and we would love the opportunity to fight for you.  Give us a call today for a free consultation.