You probably won’t be surprised to hear that distracted driving is more common and more dangerous than ever before. While distracted driving can come in many forms (which we’ll talk more about later), the most obvious culprit behind the increases in distracted driving comes in the form of electronic devices. Most everyone these days is glued to a screen for a good chunk of the day — even when driving a vehicle. Of course, this is an extremely dangerous, even deadly habit. Indeed, distracted driving killed 3,477 people on America’s roads in 2015. It’s a problem worth paying attention to.
Today’s blog will look a bit more in-depth at the rise of distracted driving. We’ll explain exactly what distracted driving is, what the trends look like over time, and what we can do about it. Distracted driving is a causal factor in far too many accidents. As your trusted Fort Collins car accident lawyers, the law office of Hadfield Stieben & Doutt wants to assure you that we are here to help if you have been injured as a result of distracted driving. Schedule your free consultation with us to explore your options moving forward. For now, let’s turn to distracted driving and what we can do about it.
What is Distracted Driving?
The definition of distracted driving is unsurprising: it’s operating a vehicle while also participating in any activity that diverts your attention from driving. There are, of course, many things that can divert a driver’s attention. We will be talking a lot about using devices while driving — be it for texting, phone calls, or anything else. However, other common causes of distracted driving include the following:
- Reaching for your phone
- Talking to another passenger
- Turning knobs in your car, such as adjusting your temperature controls
- Checking and adjusting your GPS/navigation system
- Adjusting the radio station
- Reaching for objects
But Am I Really Distracted?
As you can see, distracted driving comes in many forms. But, most of us know that we should try to minimize distractions while driving. It’s hard to imagine people wanting to be distracted while driving. Still, distracted driving is extremely common, and that’s because most people don’t even know when it’s happening. We tend to be exceptional at rationalizing our distracted behaviors. After all, who hasn’t glanced down at their phone screen or tried to shoot off a quick text, perhaps while stuck in traffic or while stopped at a stop light? When we do this, we don’t have a hard time justifying it. That’s because it seems to us at that moment that we’re not actually distracted. We like to think that we’re different, or that this specific situation is different. The worry, however, is that everyone thinks that. This should undermine our confidence that we’re somehow an exception to the rule.
The reality is that small distractions are dangerous for everyone, no matter how different we think our situation might be. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reading or sending a text tends to take about five seconds — at 55 mph, that’s like driving an entire football field with your eyes closed.
Who Does This Affect?
In short, distracted driving affects everyone. It’s true that everyone is a distracted driver from time to time, and it’s also true that most people won’t get into an accident as a result. But this is no reason for complacency or misplaced confidence that you’re a “better” distracted driver than other people. It still puts you and others at risk.
Distracted driving is most dangerous for younger drivers. Another report from the NHTSA shows that 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in a vehicle accident resulting in a fatality were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. That’s one in five. Those are staggering and frightening numbers.
Distracted driving also poses a specific danger to our Fort Collins community. This is because Fort Collins has a high number of cyclists and pedestrians. Distracted driving poses a significant threat to these folks. Sure, pedestrians themselves might be distracted from mobile devices, which can pose its own dangers. But this is no excuse for endangering the lives of others with our own distracted driving. As car accident lawyers in Northern Colorado, we cannot stress enough the importance of paying attention to the road and being on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists at all times. Even a few seconds could mean the difference between life and death.
What Can We Do About It?
The increasing dangers of distracted driving have not gone unnoticed. There are steps being taken to help increase safety on the roads. This includes making cars more compatible with technology to decrease the need to look at screens. There are also pushes for more public transportation and automated vehicles, which can bring about plenty of other benefits (and plenty of other concerns).
One of the most straightforward and effective ways to prevent distracted driving is to educate people, especially younger generations, on the very real dangers that come about while behind the wheel. There are public service campaigns that are putting in the good work to spread awareness of these dangers. As it becomes more and more known, the hope is that people will choose to put away their devices and keep their eyes on the road.
Our team of expert car accident lawyers is also here to help. We can answer any questions you might have about distracted driving and car accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident — from distracted driving or otherwise — then be sure to contact our offices in Northern Colorado. We are here to help. Contact HSD Law today to discuss your car accident claim.