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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Distracted Driving has surpassed drunk driving deaths

Distracted driving has become rampant on roadways across the country, outranking drunk driving as our nation’s leading cause of auto accident fatalities.

Distracted driving-related crashes have skyrocketed over the last decade, as smartphones, music players, and navigation systems have grown in prevalence. Too often, drivers forget that cars can be dangerous weapons when handled improperly, allowing their attention to drift away from the task of driving in order to answer a text message, bite into a burger, or change a song. Texting while driving is especially dangerous since it takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving.

Right now, approximately 660,000 drivers are texting, talking on a phone, or using an electronic device in our country. Studies have found that no demographic is without guilt—drivers of all ages, genders, races, and backgrounds admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviors while driving.

Dangerous Driving Behaviors in Different Ages

Teen Drivers
Around one in three teens between the ages of 16 and 17 have reported texting while driving. But texting isn’t the only dangerous driving behavior that teens are likely to engage in. Many teens also have admitted to reading, doing homework, and changing their clothing while driving. Additionally, teen drivers can easily become distracted by passengers, especially when those passengers are their peers.

How to Reduce the Odds of an Accident
If you’re not comfortable with your teen driving a car full of rowdy passengers, set your own restrictions. If you do allow your teen to drive their friends around, make sure you talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of staying focused on their environment—not the other people in the vehicle.

Ask your teen not to drive at times known to be particularly dangerous for teen drivers, or at least ask them not to drive at night (with an intermediate license in the state of Florida, teens should not be driving on their own after 11 pm anyway). Caution your teen to watch out for dangerous driving behavior— weaving or sudden acceleration and deceleration—and to leave plenty of room if they see a driver who may be drunk. If your teen does drink, make sure they know it is better to call you and ask for a ride than to risk driving home drunk and put their lives in danger.

Remember, just because your teen has earned their driver’s license doesn’t mean they are done learning about defensive driving and the rules of the road. Continue to instruct your teenager when you drive with them, and they will hopefully begin developing the skills necessary to reduce their chances of being in a crash.

Adult Drivers
A shocking 47 percent of adults who text say that they have texted or read a message while driving. Other common distracted driving behaviors among adult motorists that cause serious accidents include daydreaming, smoking cigarettes, and adjusting music or climate systems.

Senior Drivers
Today, there are more drivers aged 65 and older on the road than ever before. Senior drivers are 16 percent more likely than younger adult drivers to cause a crash due to deteriorating health, slower reaction time, and the influence of medications. When seniors engage in distracted driving behaviors, it’s usually a recipe for disaster—and when senior drivers text behind the wheel, they are four times as likely to accidentally veer out of their lane than younger adults or teen drivers.

How Technology Can Help

Of course, in-car technology isn’t all bad. While technology is often the cause of many distracted driving accidents, it can also be used to prevent it. Today, there are a variety of apps for your smartphone specifically designed to prevent distracted driving behaviors, such as:

Drive First
Sprint customers enjoy a free download of this handy app, which auto-responds to incoming text messages and redirects calls to voicemail during a drive. While the app prevents drivers from texting or making calls during a drive, it does allow emergency calls to certain numbers.

Drive Mode®
AT&T Drive Mode switches on automatically when a vehicle is in motion, auto-responding to text messages while allowing the driver to easily access music and navigation. Parents can even arrange to receive text message alerts if their kids ever turn off their app.

Safely Go™
Verizon’s distracted driving prevention app, Safely Go, allows drivers to access only three important apps and receive calls from three key contacts while driving. Calls are enabled through Bluetooth and other hands-free devices.

Distracted Driving Statistics
Although teen drivers are the most susceptible group to distracted driving, nearly every age group participates in some type of distracted driving habits. According to Distraction.Gov, “An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012.”

•    10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the
      crash.This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted

•    Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes
    – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

•    At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or
     manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010
     – National Occupant Protection Use Survey

•    Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s
     enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded – VTTI

•    25% of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20% of teens and
     10% of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving
     – University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

Contact Us
If you were seriously injured, or a loved one died in a car accident caused by distracted driver, call the offices of Miller Weisbrod, LLP, located in Dallas, today at 214.987.0005 or toll free at 888.987.0005 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury trial attorney. You may also contact us by e-mail for answers to your important questions or to schedule an appointment.


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