Distracted driving happens all the time; chances are, you’ve noticed a driver paying attention to something other than the road. Whether it’s on neighborhood streets, city avenues, or on the highways, it seems like there are distracted drivers everywhere you can drive a vehicle—nowadays, drivers are even distracted in parking lots.
Drivers often presume taking their eyes off of the road for a second or two isn’t dangerous. However, a lot can happen in a single second. The alarming toll of distracted driving fatalities continues to rise and can affect more than those involved in the car accident.
What Causes Distracted Driving
Driving distractions are not limited to smartphone use. Even though texting and talking on the phone is a common cause, it’s not the only thing that can distract drivers. Some other types of distractions include but are not limited to the following,
- Visual distractions. Large billboards begging for attention and breathtaking scenery can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road momentarily. Checking your GPS and gawking at an accident are other visual distractions drivers commonly encounter.
- Distractions can also be manual, forcing you to look away from the road and take your hands off the steering wheel, and no, using your knees to temporarily steer a vehicle is not safer. Other manual distractions include changing the radio station or reaching for something like a snack or water bottle.
- Some distractions are cognitive; for example, daydreaming while driving and even singing and talking can distract you from driving responsibly at times.
Remember what you learned in driver’s education? Never take your eyes off of the road or remove your hands from the steering wheel. Some driver’s ed. Teachers even recommend driving with the radio turned off, though for most drivers, this is a little extreme.
Some Alarming Distracted Driving Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posts statistics annually in an effort to keep roads safe for everyone. Some key statistics highlight the dangers of distracted driving and the toll the behavior can take on everyone involved. To give you an idea of the dangers of distracted driving, 3,522 people lost their lives in 2021 due to drivers not paying attention.
This roughly translates to nine individuals dying every day in the United States from distracted driving. Distracted driving does not only affect other drivers; pedestrians and bicyclists are also at risk. NHTSA statistics report that 587 cyclists and pedestrians were killed by drivers not paying attention in 2020.
Thankfully, not all distracted driving accidents result in fatalities. Some result in injuries ranging from mild to severe and even life-threatening. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 324,652 injuries in 202 that occurred due to a distracted driver.
When Are Drivers More Likely to be Distracted
Did you know the time of day or night can influence drivers’ ability to pay attention to the road?
Not surprisingly, the majority of drivers report being more distracted at night. The hours between 6 pm and 11 pm typically see the most distracted driving accidents, which could be due to drivers feeling tired after a long day, wondering what’s for dinner, or something as mundane as trying to catch the evening news on the radio.
So, when are drivers more likely to be paying attention to the road? The answer may not be surprising. Drivers are typically more alert and paying attention between 6 am and 9 am since drivers often feel refreshed and wide awake in the morning. They also don’t have the mental distractions that often come after a long day.
These statistics do not mean avoiding the roads after 6 p.m., only that you need to pay constant attention to your immediate surroundings, which includes the road in front of you. Don’t forget to pay attention to the vehicle’s sides; after all, it’s why your car has side view mirrors.
Preventing Distracted Driving Accidents
Currently, 24 states have laws in place restricting cell phone use while driving and 48 states prohibit texting or calling when you’re behind the wheel. While these laws are helping to remind drivers to put their smartphones down, distracted driving accidents are still occurring at an alarming rate. You can take steps to avoid a distracted driving accident, and it’s easier than you may think.
Billboards Aren’t That Interesting
Yes, billboards are huge and designed to grab your attention, but do you even remember the sign after a couple of miles? Nothing on a billboard is so important it justifies taking your eyes off the road, even for a brief second.
Need to find a restroom or gas station? Don’t worry; exit signs usually alert you a mile or so before the turnoff. Miss the exit, no problem. You can always turn around. Missing an exit for a gas station is better than being the cause of an accident.
Red Lights Do Not Mean Picking Up Your Smartphone
Red lights can be long and boring, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to pick up your smartphone just yet.
When the light turns green, drivers behind you expect your vehicle to start moving, so pay attention to the changing traffic light and always check the intersection before moving forward. You can easily get into a distracted driving accident at traffic lights simply by presuming all other vehicles have cleared the intersection.
Never Drive When You Feel Tired
After a long day at work, all you want to do is get home and unwind. However, your long work day can also leave you feeling exhausted before heading out on the road back home, so wait a few minutes before getting behind the wheel.
Also, consider trying some stretching exercises to help get the blood flowing, as a few simple stretches can wake you up and keep you from becoming mentally distracted.
Contact an Accident Attorney
Whether you or someone you love is involved in a distracted driving accident, contact an attorney to help guide you through the process.
You want to ensure you protect your legal rights at all times, regardless of whether you’re the at-fault driver or not. Remember, the best way to avoid this type of car accident is to always stay alert when you’re driving on the road.