Distracted driving accidents are the cause of approximately nine fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Drivers face three types of distractions on the road: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions are anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road; manual distractions cause a driver to take their hands off the wheel; cognitive distractions are anything that takes a driver’s mind off driving.
Texting while driving is particularly dangerous, because it is a visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 481,000 drivers use cell phones while driving during daylight hours.
When drivers read or send a text, they look away from the road for about five seconds, which is long enough to drive the length of a football field if the driver is going 55 miles per hour.
The NHTSA reports that 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2016 alone. Teens represent the largest age group in fatal distracting driving accidents. In 2015, a CDC national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) report found that 42 percent of high school students who drove in the last 30 days had sent an email or a text while driving.
A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that for drivers who text while driving, crash risk is increased 23 percent, as compared to drivers who are not distracted. Of the drivers aged 18 to 20 who survived a car accident and participated in the study, 11 percent admitted to reading or typing a text at the time of the accident.
Many states have laws banning texting for drivers 21 and younger. However, another study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health reports that approximately 2 out of 5 teenagers, aged 14 to 19, texted while driving at least once in the month prior to the survey.
The highest prevalence of teen texting and driving was 64 percent in South Dakota, and the lowest was 26 percent in Maryland.
In five states, over 50 percent of teens aged 15 or younger with a learner’s permit reported texting and driving. The study’s lead author says he is not surprised by this, because graduated driver’s licensing laws typically allow teens to start driving at age 15. The study also found that teens who have a habit of wearing their seatbelts were 21 percent less likely to drive and text than those who do not.
Risky driving behavior, such as not wearing a seatbelt and texting while driving, occur less frequently when there is an adult in the car, according to the senior epidemiologist at CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention.
It is therefore important for parents to set a good example for teens, by not using the phone while driving, or while accompanying the teen as a passenger.
If you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Dover car accident lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. We represent clients throughout Delaware from our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation.