What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving—or anything that diverts a driver’s attention from the task of driving—is the culprit in thousands of fatal accidents and tens of thousands of accidents resulting in injury. Distracted driving is a serious safety problem in the US today, so it is important to arm yourself with the knowledge of what constitutes distracted driving, how it happens, and how to protect yourself if you or a loved one has been hurt by a distracted driver.
Types of Distracted Driving
According to Distraction.gov, the official U.S. Government website for distracted driving, “all distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety”. Activities that commonly interfere with a driver’s concentration and ability to safely drive a vehicle include:
- Eating and drinking
- Talking on a cell phone
- Talking to a passenger
- Reading a map or using a GPS or other navigation guide
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
- Watching a video on a phone or a navigation system
- Tending to children or pets
- Daydreaming or watching the scenery
- Adjusting anything on the dashboard such as heat or air conditioning
- “Rubber necking”
Additionally in Wisconsin two types of distracted driving are expressly prohibited. Specifically, the law bans:
- Cell phone use for new drivers
- Texting for all drivers
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Undoubtedly, distracted driving is a major problem in the US today. To put the dangers of distracted driving into context, consider the following statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,360 in 2011. An additional, 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9% increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011.
- In 2011, nearly one in five crashes (17%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.
- In December 2012, more than 171 billion text messages were sent or received in the US.
In the time it takes to respond to a text or take a bite of food while you are driving, the car in front of you could come to an abrupt stop, or a child could run out into the street. In those moments, every single second counts. And every second a driver spends distracted could mean the difference between a safe drive and a life-altering car crash.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents
As serious as distracting driving accidents are, the good news is that they are preventable. Prevent distracted driving accidents by:
- Making driving your primary focus when behind the wheel
- Avoiding driving when fatigued or upset
- Putting your phone in a place where you will not be tempted to look at it while driving, such as the a locked glove compartment or the back seat.
- Setting an away message on your phone that informs callers you are currently driving and when you will reach your destination.
- Downloading an app to your phone that sends pre-set replies to incoming texts letting people know you are driving.
- Pre-emptively informing anyone with the potential to call or text you that you do not reply while you are driving.
- Understanding that in the event of a true emergency, your safest bet is to pull over before making a call or sending a text.
Ultimately, change begins with you—the driver. Help save lives by remaining vigilant in your adherence to the tips outlined above.
After a Distracted Driving Accident: What to Do
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car crash resulting from distracted driving, please contact an experienced car crash attorney immediately. You could be entitled to compensatory and punitive damages that may help to recover costs incurred due to lost income, pain and suffering, emotional trauma and other out-of-pocket expenses. Call Gebhard Law today to review your case and put you on the road to physical and financial recovery.