In recent years greater attention has been paid to what may be one of the most underreported contributing factors in a crash: distracted driving. With so much focus on this topic, it’s helped to uncover some of the most common distractions behind the wheel.
What People Think about Distracted Driving
A survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in December 2011 revealed some startling information concerning the attitudes of drivers when it comes to distractions. About half of the drivers surveyed didn’t believe talking on a cell phone is distracting. But they did believe it was when emailing or texting. Meanwhile, 60 percent of those under the age of 35 did not believe talking on a cell phone is distracting.
The age group most affected by crashes and near-crashes involving cell phones was 18- to 20-year-olds. This included talking and sending/reading an email or text message. Although most drivers indicated texting or emailing is distracting, about 18 percent of the people surveyed said they still did it.
Common Distractions While Driving That Could Lead to an Accident
The following are some of the more common distractions that increase the risk of an accident:
- eating and drinking;
- talking on cell phone;
- other cell phone use (texting, emailing, social media, web surfing);
- movement (picking up dropped object, reaching for something);
- roadside distractions (accident, animals, people);
- talking to passengers;
- watching video;
- adjusting CD player, radio, climate controls; and
- using a navigational system.
A report from NHTSA indicates that injuries in a crash involving distracted drivers increased in 2012 (from 387,000 in 2011 to 421,000 in 2012). However, deaths from these same types of crashes decreased (3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012).
Distracted Driving in West Virginia
The year 2010 was the first time distracted driving statistics were gathered for the state of West Virginia. The following indicates the types of distractions that contributed to the 13 distraction-related fatal crashes in 2010:
- cell phone use (23.1 percent);
- eating/drinking/smoking (23.1 percent);
- unaware/didn’t see (15.4 percent);
- objects in vehicle/vehicle controls (15.4 percent);
- outside person/event/object (15.4 percent); and
- other (15.4 percent).
Keep in mind that some of the crashes could have involved multiple distractions. Additionally, 13 fatal crashes (4.6 percent) involved a distraction for at least one driver, though some argue this is an under-reported figure as driver distractions may go unreported or unknown during an accident investigation.
Proving Distracted Driving in a Car Accident
One of the reasons these types of crashes may be underreported is that it’s difficult to prove. Unless someone outright admits being distracted, a person would have to rely on his/her own statement in observing the behavior or someone else (such as a passenger in the other driver’s car, a bystander or an occupant in another vehicle).
If you believe that distracted driving was the cause of a crash and you or a loved one has sustained serious injuries as a result, seek legal advice. An attorney can help determine the viability of your claim and options for proving it. Contact The Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg to set up a consultation today. Call us at 304-931-4088 or fill out our online contact form.