Ever since the majority of Americans got their hands on smartphones, safety organizations have been scrambling to keep them out of sight while people are driving. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 23% of all car accidents involve one or more drivers using a cellphone at the time of collision; some studies suggest that number could actually be as high as 40% but require more research. It is also believed that one-in-five car accident fatalities among teenagers involve texting behind the wheel. As harrowing as these statistics already are, experts agree that the actual numbers must be much higher, as most drivers will not admit to being on their cellphone while driving due to the illegality of the behavior.
Three Forms of Distraction in One Reckless Behavior
What is it that makes texting and driving so absolutely dangerous? Similar activities, such as eating behind the wheel, are clearly not safe but they are not contributing to a massive percentage of all car accidents. So what is going on when someone picks up a smartphone that is so unique?
The CDC believes the answer lies in three distinct forms of driver distraction:
- Manual: When your hands come off the wheel (or gearshift and clutch in a manual transmission vehicle).
- Mental: Something that takes your mind off the task at hand and makes you think of something else.
- Visual: Removing your eyes from the road and mirrors for more than two seconds.
Texting and driving engages the driver in all three forms of distraction. One or both hands grab the cellphone, the driver needs to actually look at the screen to read the message or their own response, and they have to sit and think about what they want to say. It is a recipe for a disaster by all measures of the term.
Still, it is a challenge to get this message across to young drivers, who are more prone to use a cellphone than any other age group. The AAA (American Automobile Association) conducted a poll that concluded that 94% of all teens believed that texting and driving is inherently dangerous, and yet that same poll showed that 35% of teenagers admitted to texting and driving regularly. Before more steps are taken to eliminate texting and driving altogether – self-driving cars? – your best choice of action if you are struck by a distracted driver is to contact Cranston & Edwards, PLLC and our Morgantown car accident attorneys. We may be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf that wins you maximum compensation for your injuries.