The Dangers of Driving While Distracted

Posted on July 22, 2011 at 3:43pm by

Driver distraction results in deadly accidents on U.S. roadways every year. Studies show that driver distraction is the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes and near-crashes. In fact, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve driver distraction. When a distracted driver causes harm to you or your passengers or to your vehicle or other property, an experienced Atlantic City injury lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and pursue all remedies available under the law.

Common Distractions

Drivers can be distracted:

  • Visually, when they are looking at something other than the road ahead
  • Cognitively, when their mind is on something other than driving
  • Manually, when they take their hands off the steering wheel

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and VTTI, the most common distractions resulting in accidents are:

  • Cell phone use
  • Reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle
  • Looking at an object or event outside the vehicle
  • Reading
  • Applying makeup

The more frequently a driver engages in distracting behaviors, the higher are his or her chances of being involved in an auto accident.

Why Distracted Driving Is So Dangerous

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers who are cognitively distracted may gaze blindly at the road without actually seeing or recognizing the objects ahead. And drivers who are visually distracted literally cannot see the objects ahead. When drivers do not see or recognize the objects around them, they cannot react to the movements of nearby vehicles or to hazards in the roadway, which can result in a collision. When drivers are manually distracted, on the other hand, they may end up in an accident not because they did not notice their surroundings, but because they could not steer to avoid the collision due to their hands being off the wheel.

Cell Phone Use While Driving

Studies show that at any daytime moment, up to 10 percent of drivers are using a hand-held or hands-free cell phone. Contrary to popular belief, using a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The number of crashes and near-crashes attributed to dialing a cell phone is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening. Some states and municipalities have passed laws restricting the use of cell phones while driving. In New Jersey, drivers may not talk or text message using a hand-held device, unless the driver fears for his or her life or is communicating with emergency personnel.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and you suspect driver distraction may have been the cause, contact our firm to learn about your rights from a qualified Atlantic City injury attorney.