Careless Driving Category Obscuring the True Dangers of Distracted Driving
A 75-year-old North Carolina woman was recently killed while standing on a neighbor's lawn. Her death was caused by a driver who ran her over while driving drunk and texting. The motorist has been charged with second-degree murder, texting while driving, reckless driving and a number of other crimes.
This was far from the only incident where someone was killed in a distracted driving collision. Distracted driving was a contributing cause of 421,000 injuries and 3,360 deaths nationwide in motor vehicle accidents in 2012 alone. Reports indicate that 11 percent of drivers aged 20 and under who are involved in fatal collisions are distracted at the time. Within North Carolina, 23.2 percent of all 2012 collisions involved a distracted driver.
Victims injured by distracted drivers can take legal action and a Wilmington, NC accident attorney can help.
Distracted Driving is More Dangerous Than You Think
Unfortunately, reports may be significantly underestimating the number of people who are actually distracted in an accident or when cited for traffic violations. Evidence suggests some people are classified as "careless" drivers when in fact they are distracted drivers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took a close look at the number of drivers using cell phones and electronic devices in 2012 and revealed that:
- The number of drivers text messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased to 1.5 percent in 2012 from 1.3 percent in 2011.
- In 2012, five percent of drivers held cell phones to their ears.
- Around 660,00 vehicles at any given daylight moment are being driven by a motorist who is using a hand-held phone.
- In 2012, around nine percent of vehicles on the roads were driven by a motorist who was using either a hands-free or hand held phone. Evidence has demonstrated that using a hands-free phone is no safer than using a handheld phone.
- Since 2007, the percentage of drivers manipulating hand-held devices while driving has been significantly higher among drivers age 16 to 24 than among drivers of any other age group. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine recently revealed that teen drivers tend to start off driving carefully but eventually begin to multi-task. When they do, they are less safe than adults.
While these statistics are scary, the fact is that there are probably a lot more distracted drivers than this data suggests. Drivers often use the phone undetected or aren't caught, and surveys of motorist shows large percentages of people on the phone. Furthermore, distracted driving behavior doesn't just end with cell phones and electronic devices. Lots of behaviors are distracting, some of which aren't illegal and aren't tracked and some of which are misclassified as careless driving. For example, research shows that:
- 18 percent of drivers admitted to texting and driving in 2011, and experts believe that as many as 35-36 percent of drivers text behind the wheel.
- 39 percent of drivers said that they have consumed food and beverages while driving.
- Three percent of drivers said that they have applied their makeup as they were driving.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also shows that as many as 62 percent of drivers who cause fatal distracted driving crashes are daydreaming at the time, while two percent are eating or drinking.
Without a full understanding of all of the dangers associated with different kinds of distraction, there is no way for these high-risk behaviors to be effectively reduced.
A Wilmington, NC accident attorney at the Law Offices of Richard Flexner can help. Call 800-FLEXNER to schedule a free consultation.