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How Common are Distracted Driving Accidents?

Driving while distracted is a very dangerous activity that claims the lives of more than 3,000 individuals each year. According to Business Insider, distracted driving is the leading cause of auto accidents, and it is estimated that 80% of all vehicle accidents involve some form of driver distraction. All it takes is just a few seconds of distraction to cause a collision, and in today’s modern age, there are more ways a driver can be distracted than ever before.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Distracted driving is quickly becoming a national epidemic, and here are some of the most disturbing statistics that underscore this fact:

  • About 9 people are killed each day and more than 1,000 individuals are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers;
  • More than 80% of motorists admit to distracting behavior while driving;
  • In one survey, 56% of respondents admit to using their cell phones while driving;
  • Distracted driving is the direct cause of nearly 60% of all crashes that involve teen drivers;
  • Teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are most likely to drive while distracted;
  • A teen driver with at least one additional passenger in the car is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal accident as a teen driver with no passengers;
  • Car crashes are now the number one killer among teens in the US;
  • Drivers are 8 times more likely to be involved in a crash when reaching for an object, and three times more likely to crash while eating or drinking when they drive;
  • Distracted driving costs our society approximately $40 billion each year.

Types of Distracted Driving

There are numerous ways that a driver can be distracted. Some of the most common include:

  • Eating and drinking;
  • Grooming;
  • Reaching for an object;
  • Tuning a car radio;
  • Reading a GPS;
  • Interacting with a passenger;
  • Interacting with a pet;
  • Talking on a cell phone;
  • Watching a video;
  • Sending, receiving, and reading texts;
  • Sending, receiving, and reading other types of electronic messages.

Distracted driving can be broken down into four general categories:

  • Visual: A distraction that causes drivers to take their eyes off of the road. Visual distractions can be partial in which a driver still maintains his or her peripheral vision, or they can be total when the driver’s full visual focus is directed away from the road.
  • Audio: A distraction that prevents the driver from hearing noises from outside that they may need to deal with. For example, playing the radio so loud that you are unable to hear a motorcycle that is driving alongside your vehicle.
  • Manual: A distraction that causes the driver to take his/her hands off of the wheel or clutch for any reason. Examples of manual distractions that we talked about earlier include eating/drinking, reaching for an object, or handling a passenger or pet.
  • Cognitive: A distraction that takes a driver’s mind away from the road. For example, becoming totally engaged in a radio program, phone conversation, or a conversation with a passenger.

All of the different categories of distractions can be hazardous to drivers when they occur in the wrong place and at the wrong time. However, texting while driving and other types of electronic activity while behind the wheel bring the dangers of distracted driving to a whole new level.

For example, sending, receiving, or reading a text falls into three different categories of distraction; visual, manual, and cognitive. Watching a video is even worse, because it can also become an audio distraction. The end result of these types of distractions is the driver becoming totally focused on their cell phone, making an auto accident much more likely.

Just to provide some context to how dangerous texting while driving is, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that when someone looks down at their phone for just five seconds while driving at 55 mph, it is similar to driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.

Injured in Distracted Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer

Distracted driving is a danger that we must all be aware of, and we all need to do our part to curb this type of behavior and make the roads safer. When you have done all you can do, however, you still cannot control the actions of others.

If you or someone close to you has suffered injury at the hands of a distracted driver, you deserve to be fully compensated.If your accident occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake & Fowler for skilled legal guidance. Message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We look forward to serving you!

Does Distracted Driving Cause more Motorcycle Accidents?

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;
  • Grooming;
  • 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.

Teen Drivers & Distractions

Distracted driving has been a growing problem in South Carolina and throughout the country in recent years. While motorists have always had distractions, the increased use of smartphones to stay connected has become a temptation that is difficult for many drivers to resist.

Distracted driving is particularly common among teens, who are the most tech-savvy age group, and the most avid users of electronic devices. The widespread use of smartphones among the most inexperienced group of drivers can be a deadly combination.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Each year, thousands of individuals are killed, and hundreds of thousands are injured in distracted-driving related vehicle crashes. And according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately half a million drivers throughout the country are using their cell phones at any given time during daylight hours. The NHTSA goes on to say that teens are the largest group reported as distracted at the time fatal vehicle crashes occur.

Here are some other disturbing statistics about teen drivers and distractions:

  • More than half of all teens admit to having used a cell phone while driving, and one out of four admit to having texted while driving during the past 30 days;
  • Car crashes are now the number one killer of teens in United States;
  • Individuals ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than any other age group;
  • Almost 60% of all motor vehicle crashes among teens are now the result of distracted driving.

What Can be Done about Teen Drivers and Distractions?

Many state laws have been passed in recent years to help address the problem of distracted driving. Like most other states, texting while driving is against the law in South Carolina.  Lawmakers in the Palmetto State have discussed going further and enacting a ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving, making cell phone use legal only when it is in “hands free” mode.  Many other states have already enacted similar laws, with some states choosing to ban hand-held cell phone use for teens only.

As the law tries to catch up with evolving technology, it is also incumbent upon parents to help ensure that their teens are driving safely. Here are some steps parents can take to help prevent distracted driving among their teens:

  • Educate them: Distracted-driving will no doubt be covered during your teen’s driver safety courses, but parents should also reinforce the importance of refraining from this type of behavior while behind the wheel. Have an honest conversation with your teen about the dangers of distracted driving, and how they can minimize these distractions and stay focused on the road.
  • Prohibit other teen passengers while your teen is driving: This is a tough one that your teen will almost certainly protest. Teens love to drive around with their friends in the car, but this can be just as dangerous a distraction as texting while behind the wheel. Shouting, cranking up the radio, horseplay, and other types of rowdy behavior greatly increase the risk of a vehicle crash. This is why it is best to prohibit your teen from having other teen passengers or from riding as a passenger with another new teen driver.
  • Sign a written agreement with your teen: Create a contract between you and your teen that contains written ground rules they must follow when they are driving. By having something in writing and signed by your teen, your teen will have clear guidelines they must follow to be safe, and they cannot claim ignorance later on if you have to revoke their driving privileges for breaking the contract.
  • Install apps to prevent cell phone use while driving: Although technology has helped increase the problem of distracted driving, technology is also helping to solve it. There are now several apps available which can do things like block texts and phone calls (except for emergency calls) while driving, block other distracting apps (such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) while driving, allow parents to track their teen’s location, and analyze their teen’s driving habits. Consider using one or more of these apps to help prevent your teen from being distracted while behind the wheel.
  • Set a good example for your teen: Finally, keep in mind that kids tend to model the behavior of their parents. So, be sure to refrain from texting while driving and other dangerous driving activities yourself.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact a Skilled Auto Accident Lawyer

If you or someone close to you was injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver (teen or otherwise), you may have a right to compensation. Before dealing with any insurance adjusters, it is best to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options. At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented numerous clients injured in motor vehicle accidents in South Carolina, and we fight hard to help our clients obtain the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our web contact form.