More and more drivers on the road are engaging in non-driving related tasks. And that doesn’t just mean using your cell phone. Distracted driving can be anything from eating fast food and applying makeup to unruly kids or pets. Some safety advocates say you shouldn’t use a phone at all when you’re behind the wheel, but that’s not realistic considering that smartphones—with their integrated digital assistants—have become the go-to device for many people to get directions and play music.
Brad says, “It’s tragic to think of how many final moments are preceded with the thought, ‘I’ll just send a quick text.’ It all too often leads to a tragic car accident. Whatever it is you need to send can wait.” Minimizing the number of incoming messages and calls can reduce the distraction of having a phone in the car. Many phones let you do this through a “do not disturb while driving” feature. You can set your one phone to automatically activate when the phone senses motion or connects to a car via Bluetooth.
Brad says, “There are several apps that teens or their parents can download on their phones that will assist in resisting the temptation to text while driving or even using their phone while driving. I can’t think of one reason teens (and adults) shouldn’t be utilizing these types of apps.”
What Drivers Can Do
- Whether it’s adjusting your mirrors, selecting music, eating, making a phone call, or reading a text or email―do it before or after your trip, not during.
- Consider trying an app to reduce distractions while driving.
What Passengers Can Do
- Speak up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver. Ask the driver to focus on driving.
- Reduce distractions for the driver by assisting with navigation or other tasks.
What Parents Can Do
- Talk to your teen or young adult about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving.
- Share stories and statistics related to teen/young adult drivers and distracted driving.
- Remind them driving is a skill that requires the driver’s full attention.
- Emphasize that texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at a destination.
What States Can Do
- Many states have enacted laws to help prevent distracted driving. These include banning texting while driving, implementing hands-free laws, and limiting the number of young passengers who can ride with teen drivers. It is illegal to text while behind the wheel of a moving car in Texas. This is specified as the act of sending or receiving messages while driving.
- Some states have installed rumble strips on highways to alert drowsy, distracted, or otherwise inattentive drivers that they are about to go off the road.
- All handheld device use is banned while driving through a school zone.
- All drivers younger than 18 years of age are banned from the use of any handheld device while driving.
- Bus drivers cannot use their cell phones in any manner while there are children on the bus they are driving.
What the Federal Government Can Do
- In 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation released the National Roadway Safety Strategy. Part of the strategy includes supporting vehicle technology systems that detect distracted driving.
- In 2021, Congress provided resources to add distracted driving awareness as part of driver’s license exams.
- Several federal regulations target distractions for workers.
Distracted Driving Statistics
- Distracted driving claimed 3,142lives in
- 39% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days say they texted or emailed while driving on at least one of those days.
- The fatal crash rate for teens is 3 times greater than for drivers age 20 and over.
- Texting or emailing while driving was more common among older students than younger students and more common among White students (44%) than Black (30%) or Hispanic students (35%).
- Cell phone users are 36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers.
- Text messaging for commercial drivers increases the risk of crash or near-crash by 23 times.
- Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.
- More than 84% of drivers recognize the danger from cell phone distractions and find it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send an email while driving. Nevertheless, 36% of these same people admit to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving in the previous month.
*information according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Three Types of Distractions
Traffic safety experts classify distractions into three main types: Manual, Visual and Cognitive.
- Manual distractions are those where you move your hands from the wheel.
- Visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road.
- A cognitive distraction is when you’re mind wanders away from the task of driving.
As you can see from the statistics in this blog, distracted driving is a huge problem and one of the main causes of car accidents on our Texas roads. If you have been seriously injured by the negligence of a distracted driver, you deserve to have someone on your side. Call our office or fill out our contact form for a free case consultation.