Distracted driving is becoming far too commonplace on the streets of Boston. All distractions present incredible risk to injury or death, not only the driver, but also passengers and bystanders. There are three main types of distraction that are based on three types of attention, visual distractions (taking your eyes off the road), manual distractions (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive distractions (taking your mind off of driving). Common distractions that can occur while operating a vehicle are texting or using a cell phone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, applying make up or fixing one’s hair, reading (maps or directions), using a GPS, watching a video, and fiddling with radios or MP3 players to play music.
The more dangerous distractions are those that incorporate more than one of the groups of distractions. For example, a particularly concerning distraction is using a cell phone to text because it requires so many forms of attention, visual, manual, and cognitive. Some key statistics can illustrate just how damaging distracting driving can be. In 2014, distracted drivers were associated with 3,179 fatalities and 431,000 injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Studies have show that distracted driving appears to be more prevalent in younger drivers. Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of motor vehicle traffic crashes were cases in which the teenage driver, between 15 and 19 years old, was described as being distracted at the time of the crash. Specifically, it has been studied that texting takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. If driving on a highway, assuming travelling about 55 miles per hour, you will travel the length of a football field while your eyes are focused on your text messages.
In order to discourage distracted driving, various state and federal laws have been enacted. Many states have put a ban on texting and driving. The Federal bans include banning texting while driving on government business/with government-owned equipment and banning cell phone use while on the job for various professions (railroad workers, motor carriers). Most notably is the “It can wait” campaign sponsored by AT&T, which urges drivers that their phone can wait. To date, there are over 8 million pledges made by those who pledge to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones. Although phones are the most well known driving distraction, other less obvious distractions can be just as dangerous. As technology advances, cars are becoming more technologically sophisticated. Most people believe that if respected car companies install intricate “infotainment” dashboards into cars, then they must be safe to use while driving. However, anything that takes attention away from the road can distract drivers enough to get into an accident. Driving is not an activity that can be used to multitask.
As smart phones and social media have gained popularity, distracted driving has become more prevalent. A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute suggests that texting while driving can make a person six times more likely to cause an accident then driving with under the influence of alcohol. As distracted driving has become more rampant, personal injury lawsuits on the basis of distracted driving has appropriately become more common. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident due to distracted driving, call the experienced Boston Law Office of Altman & Altman for a free consultation case consultation.