April Is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

 In Personal Injury

We handle many personal injury cases involving distracted driving, which means we know that distracted driving can lead to life-altering consequences. We have seen lives turned upside down by drivers who were talking on cell phones, texting, eating or otherwise distracted behind the wheel. Statistics confirm the problem. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than nine people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured each day in America in car accidents that involve a distracted driver.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, and we’d like to honor it by sharing with you some things that you might not know about distracted driving.

Hands-Free Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Risk-Free

According to the National Safety Council, 80 percent of American drivers believe that using a hands-free device behind the wheel is safer than talking on a regular cell phone. Unfortunately, numerous studies have proven this to be untrue. Because our brains are still distracted by the conversation, drivers who are on the phone—hands-free or otherwise—can still miss as much as half of what’s around them, – including important things like stop lights and pedestrians.

Multitasking Is a Myth

For years, Americans have been told that mastering multitasking will make us better, more effective workers, parents and community members. Our multitasking has often extended to the roads, where commuters check email on their phones while stuck in rush hour traffic and soccer moms make PTA phone calls while driving the kids to practice.

Unfortunately, it turns out that multitasking is a myth. According to recent neuroscience research, multitasking does not make us more productive. Instead of saving time, it actually makes tasks take longer to complete and increases the likelihood of mistakes. When drivers are behind the wheel, these mistakes can turn deadly. That’s why it’s a good idea to put your phone down and focus on the road.

Texting Can Take Your Eyes Off the Road for the Length of a Football Field

Speaking of focusing on the road, texting and driving is one of the most notorious ways that distracted drivers lose focus. Many people justify texting behind the wheel because it takes their eyes away from the road for “just a few seconds.” But it isn’t just a few seconds. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the average time a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting is closer to five seconds.

When you’re behind the wheel, every second counts. For instance, if your car is travelling at 55 miles per hour, taking your eyes off the road for five seconds means not seeing your surroundings while your car travels the length of an entire football field.

You Can Choose a More Focused Drive

So what can we do about distracted driving? As drivers, we can all be more conscientious about paying attention to the road while driving. We can choose to put down our phones and other distracting items. We can also start conversations about the dangers of distracted driving—especially when you’re riding with a driver who is driving while distracted. This can be challenging to do, but speaking up could save a life.

If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s also important to consider that distracted driving may have played a part. Talk about distracted driving with your lawyer; it’s something that attorneys often investigate when another driver’s negligence has caused you harm. From our own experience, we can tell you that we will often obtain phone records, review police reports and talk with witnesses to determine whether distracted driving was a factor in your crash.

Want to Learn More About Distracted Driving?

If you’re curious to know more about distracted driving, we encourage you to visit the National Safety Council’s website. They are running their “Calls Kill” campaign all month. Learn about it, and get involved however you can. If anything, pledge to go phone-free for the rest of the month to see what kind of impact that has on your driving.

Photo source: Some rights reserved via Wikimedia Commons

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