Distracted driving has a wide range of causes, including the radio, eating/drinking, cell phone use, GPS and other electronic devices, passengers in the vehicle, and all sorts of distractions outside the vehicle. The dangers of distracted driving cannot be overstated, as these accidents now result in serious injuries and even death on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, many of these accidents involve new and inexperienced drivers who have a lot on their minds: after-school jobs, taking exams, awaiting graduation, and growing accustomed to driving on a regular basis. As teenagers, there may also be distractions from friends in the car and loud music. Distracted driving is indeed a growing problem, and not only due to common distractions: in one study, a startling 46% of teenagers admitted to texting while driving.
Every day, nine people in the United States are killed in distracted driving-related car accidents. The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) estimates that 660,000 drivers are using handheld devices at any given moment. Law enforcement can only do so much, but the growing public awareness and efforts to combat this problem have accomplished a great deal already and will only grow further as time goes on.
Of course, cell phone use has absolutely skyrocketed since the late 1990s. In 1996, only 14% of Americans had cell phone subscriptions; by 2011, cell phone subscriptions outnumbered Americans. Texting while driving, however, is a major growing concern across the country, and law enforcement is doing its best to keep up: as of 2022, 48 U.S. states, including Illinois, have banned texting-and-driving and 15 states, including Illinois, have banned all cell phone use while driving.
Hands-free electronic devices may seem inherently safer, but their dangers have also been highlighted and some organizations even consider them more distracting to drivers than texting. A study by AAA found that voice-activated features of hands-free devices caused “high levels of cognitive distraction,” despite the drivers keeping their eyes on the road and both hands firmly on the wheel. Sending or receiving a text message may distract a driver’s eyes for as long as five seconds, but hands-free devices distract the mind in different ways than texting by hand.
On a five-point scale in AAA’s study, for example, Siri ranked fourth in terms of cognitive distraction. In the study, the drivers’ cognitive impairments were linked to the shifting of their attention from driving to Siri; this can impair their driving even when their physical focus (eyes and hands) is as it should be. Drivers who used hands-free devices suffered from delayed reaction/response times, trouble staying in one lane, and inattention blindness, which is defined as failing to see up to 50% of information in the driving environment despite the drivers’ eyes being on the road. According to the NSC, their reaction times while using hands-free devices were worse than those of a driver impaired by alcohol at the illegal .08 limit.
It only takes seconds or less for distracted driving to result in an accident. A study from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that as much as 80% of distracted driving accidents result directly from the driver’s distraction within three seconds of the accident itself. Texting while driving makes an accident 23 times more likely; reaching for a moving object while driving makes it nine times more likely; applying makeup, three times more likely; and distraction by something outside the vehicle, 3.7 times more likely.
Distracted driving, particularly involving texting, is now among drunk driving and reckless driving as one of the greatest risk-factors for a serious auto accident. Not only is texting while driving extremely dangerous, but remember that it is a primary offense under Illinois state law, meaning an officer can pull a driver over solely for doing so. Furthermore, distracted driving legally qualifies as negligent driving in almost every possible circumstance. As such, victims of distracted drivers are entitled to significant compensation for their injuries and losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress, with the help of a personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident due to another’s negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based personal injury law firm, and helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people and not the powerful, we will file your claim and take care of the insurance company, medical bills, property damage, and lost income. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, our personal injury lawyers are not paid attorney fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.