According to the NHTSA distracted driving is the leading cause of all traffic accidents. Distracted drivers annually kill more than 5,000 people and cause more than 535,000 injuries. Any activity that takes a driver's attention off of driving falls into the category of distracted driving. Some examples include:
- Looking at a map or a GPS.
- Talking to passengers or disciplining children.
- Adjusting the radio, CD or other electronic device.
- Looking in the mirror to put on make-up, shave or perform other grooming processes.
- Drinking or eating.
- Talking on the phone.
Texting is the most dangerous of all. It requires you to look at the message, use cognitive skills to comprehend and understand the message and manual skills to respond. One example involved an engineer of a commuter train who was texting and failed to see a red trackside light ordering him to stop. The train plowed head-on into a freight train. The engineer and 25 passengers were killed. Another 135 were injured. Cell phone records showed that just 20 seconds before the impact, the engineer received a text message.
Another example of texting tragedy involved the driver of a pick-up truck who admitted he was reading a text when he rammed into the back of a Toyota. The Toyota was rammed into the car in front of it. Two of the four people in the Toyota were killed instantly and one seriously injured.
Statistics on distracted driving
- At any moment during daylight hours in the U.S., approximately 660,000 drivers are either talking on the phone or texting.
- The risk of being involved in a car crash is increased by three times if a driver is distracted.
- When a person texts, their eyes are off the road for a minimum of five seconds. This is equivalent to being blind-folded and driving the length of a football field.
- Of teenage drivers involved in fatal crashes, more than 10 percent were distracted at the time of the crash.
The non-multitasking driving brain
Most people can understand the risk of texting and driving since the process involves taking the eyes off the road. But, texting is not the only distraction that causes accidents. Research reveals that the brain is not as good at multi-tasking when one of those tasks is driving.
The National Safety Council has published a paper citing research on the topic of the myth that people can multi-task while driving. In summary, when involved in cognitive activity, the brain does not actually multi-task, but switches back and forth between tasks. When a driver is simultaneously driving and performing other tasks, like talking on the phone, texting, grooming, eating, drinking, consulting the GPS, the brain actually considers one a primary task, which gets the most attention, and the other a secondary task, which gets less attention than the primary task. When the brain is juggling tasks, it misses some important cues. Which is why a distracted driver doesn't see a red light, a pedestrian in the crosswalk or the brakes of the car ahead suddenly stopping.
Contact a personal injury attorney
If you were injured in a car crash in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania, and believe it was caused by a distracted driver, contact one of our personal injury attorneys in PA who will review the facts of your case. You may have a claim for damages.