The number of annual motorcycle accident fatalities has vastly increased during the past couple of decades, and many people attribute the sharp rise in fatalities to distracted driving. During the 1990s, the average motorcycle accident fatality rate was less than 3,000 per year. This number began to rise significantly in the early to mid-2000s, and today, annual motorcycle crash fatality rates hover around 5,000 every year.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the road. There are numerous ways a motorist can be distracted, some of the most common include:
- Talking on the phone while driving;
- Texting while driving;
- Watching YouTube videos;
- Reading a GPS navigation map;
- Eating and drinking;
- Looking at road signs, billboards, and other signs and displays;
- Tuning in a new station on the car radio;
- Talking to other people in the vehicle;
- Many others…
The different types of distracted driving can be divided into four general categories:
- Visual: Fixing your eyes on something other than the road.
- Audio: Hearing sounds that are not related to driving.
- Manual: Handling objects other than the steering wheel or other essential vehicle components.
- Cognitive: Thinking about something other than driving (e.g., daydreaming).
Drivers have always had distractions, and they can all be hazardous if they occur in the wrong place at the wrong time. That said, texting while driving and similar smartphone activity is especially dangerous, because it can fall into the at least three of the distraction categories; visual, manual, and cognitive. And with the alerts and notifications we receive regularly on our cell phones, it could be argued that audio should be included in this list as well.
To put into perspective just how dangerous texting while driving is, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that sending or reading a text for just five seconds is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. Distracted driving claimed the lives of more than 3,100 individuals in U.S. in 2017 alone.
How Distracted Driving Endangers Motorcyclists
Our national distracted driving epidemic has made the roadways less safe for everyone. But that said, motorcyclists are at even greater risk of accidents with serious injuries because of motorists who drive while distracted. Unlike occupants of cars and trucks, those who ride motorcycles are not protected by a steel cage, and when they are involved in a collision, there is not much that separates their bodies from hitting the pavement. This is why motorcyclists are statistically 28 times more likely to be killed in a collision (per mile driven) than motor vehicle occupants.
What makes it worse for motorcyclists is their small profile. A large number of distracted driving accidents happen because of motorists who cause collisions because they are too busy looking at their phones see a motorcycle or motor vehicle that enters their blind spot. These accidents can also happen because the driver who is looking at his/her phone weaves into another lane. The problem has gotten so bad, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2017 that distracted driving is now a contributing factor in approximately 40% of all motorcycle accidents.
Most states have laws against distracted driving, but the consequences for a violation are usually nothing more than a small fine. The dangers of texting while driving are considered to be on par with drunk driving, but the penalties are not nearly enough to deter drivers from continuing with this type of driving behavior. So, until the laws get tougher and more drivers start adhering to them, motorcyclists need to be proactive and take steps to protect themselves from distracted drivers.
Here are some ways motorcyclists can stay safer on the roads:
- Wear bright or reflective clothing and keep your lights on even during the day to help other drivers see you;
- Always make eye contact with the driver of a car or truck before crossing in front of them;
- Be on the lookout for signs that other drivers are distracted, such as weaving over the center line, moving back and forth rapidly between lanes, and remaining at a stop light even after the light turns green;
- And of course, do not text while driving or allow yourself to get distracted in other ways.
Injured by a Distracted Driver in South Carolina? Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Peake & Fowler
You can follow all the safety rules, but unfortunately, you cannot control what other drivers will do. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still end up in an accident that is caused by the negligence of another motorist. If this has happened to you or someone close to you, call Peake and Fowler today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.