While it is common knowledge that alcohol and speeding are frequent causes of accidents, another type of danger to be wary of on the road is the inattentive or distracted driver. Whether talking to a passenger, using a cell phone, changing the radio or eating, a distracted driver will most likely be unable to react properly to a given situation. A sudden stop, an adjacent accident or even an animal crossing the road, while normally avoidable, could lead to serious injury or even death as a direct result of an inattentive driver’s negligence. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 25% of reported accidents result from some form of driver inattention. This means that inattentive or distracted drivers are responsible for more than 1.5 million collisions per year!
Driver distraction is a form of inattention caused by some triggering event which redirects the driver’s attention away from the road to something either inside or outside of the vehicle. This triggering event is what distinguishes a distracted driver from one who is merely inattentive or not paying attention. A distraction can visually, mentally or even manually distract you by causing you to temporarily remove your hands from the steering wheel. For example, eating would be considered a manual and visual distraction while text messaging would be considered a complete manual, visual and cognitive distraction because a person sending a text must utilize their hands, eyes and mind in order to do so. Text messaging is considered one of the newest and most dangerous distractions to come along so far. According to the USA Today, the use of text messaging in the United States increased dramatically. These numbers have continued to rise exponentially every year. Statistically, text messaging tends to be most popular among young people. Young drivers, between 16 and 24 years of age, are often the worst offenders when it comes to driving while texting, or DWT as it has come to be called. In fact, a researcher from the University of Utah reported that a staggering 70% of minors surveyed admitted to texting while driving.
According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), a Washington D.C. based group, found that 94% of all drivers admitted to engaging in activity that could have potentially been distracting; including interacting with passengers, talking on a cell phone and changing the radio station. Further, this distracted driver phenomenon extends not only to private individuals but to drivers of commercial or work vehicles. NETS conducted a phone survey that indicated 39% of all engagement in potentially distracting behavior took place while the drivers were on the job. Generally, whether texting or talking, cell phone use while driving is a very common cause of accidents. According to a Harvard study, cell phone users are nearly 5 times more likely to be involved in car accidents than those who did not use the device.
In conclusion, it is important to avoid distractions whenever possible. Always maintain focus and pay undivided attention to the road. Avoid interacting with passengers, keep your eyes on the road and keep both hands on the wheel. In addition, do not drive while tired, upset or intoxicated in any way. If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident, contact our experienced Houston car accident lawyers for a free consultation by phone. Our trial attorneys look forward to aggressively representing you in your auto accident claim.