Distracted Driving in Wilmington is a Growing Danger
New technologies have been expanding the options for in-vehicle entertainment and information for many years now. These options also give drivers the unfortunate temptation to divert their attention from the roadway.
As smart phones and in-vehicle entertainment systems become more prevalent on the roads of America, safety advocates are looking for new ways to address this growing danger. Some have been effective and others have not. It is important for Wilmington drivers to understand the problem of distracted driving in order to make the roads of North Carolina safer for everyone.
Misconceptions About Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is not a new concern. AAA reports that 88 percent of drivers surveyed believe that distracted driving is on the rise. Interestingly, only 58 percent of drivers believed that talking on a cellphone while driving was a serious safety threat, while 78 percent believed that text messaging while driving was a bigger threat. Both calling and texting require cognitive effort which can dangerously distract a person operating a vehicle.
Public awareness campaigns, advocacy efforts, and media coverage have all worked to spread the message that distractions are on the rise among motorists. State and local governments have responded to these campaigns with legislation designed to reduce distracted driving. However, these laws do not always have the intended effect. Bloomberg reports that phone use behind the wheel continued to increase in California, Washington, and Oregon after those states restricted phone use to hands-free devices.
This is a twofold problem. First, it appears that hands-free device requirements do not reduce the use of handheld devices while driving. Second, hands-free device requirements ignore a growing body of research which finds hands-free to be no safer than handheld devices. Scientific American, the Washington Post, ZD Net, PBS News Hour, and many other news outlets have reported on the studies that have found this to be the case. This is largely due to the cognitive demands of texting or talking on the phone.
Regardless of whether he or she is physically holding a phone or using a hands-free device, a driver’s attention is still diverted from the road ahead. Engaging in electronic communication impairs his or her ability to identify and respond to traffic conditions and other obstacles in the road.
Responsibility for Distracted Driving Accidents
Even if a driver is using a hands-free device, he or she can still be found at fault for causing an accident through distracted driving. This is because every driver has a legal duty of care to other road users. He or she must operate a vehicle responsibly. Failure to do so can lead to a finding of negligence.
Negligent drivers have a legal obligation to compensate accident victims for the injuries and losses that were incurred as a result of negligent driving. Our Wilmington car accident attorneys know how to hold distracted drivers accountable for their negligence. This is important not only to protect an injury victim’s legal right to compensation, but also to prevent future accidents.