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Distracted Driving Kills

Steve Wagner

Distracted driving accidents are responsible for at least 18% of car crashes every year, and it kills over 3000 people each year. In Indiana alone, there were over 1000 crashes in 2011 that were a direct result of distracted drivers. 814 of those crashes caused property damage, 319 caused bodily injuries, and 5 people lost their lives because a driver got distracted from their primary job.

So what is that “primary job” and what is the exact definition of “distracted driving”? According to Distraction.gov there are three types of distractions drivers can succumb to while operating a vehicle: manual distractions, visual distractions and cognitive distractions.

Manual distractions are those that physically take your hands off the wheel. For example, changing the radio station, applying makeup, using a GPS, eating or drinking, operating a cell phone; all of these distractions involve your hands being removed from their primary job, operating the vehicle.

Visual distractions are those that take your eyes off the road and the surrounding traffic. Some examples of visual distractions: attending to children in the back seat, reading a map or GPS device, and reading emails, text messages or watching videos on your phone.

Cognitive distractions are ones that cause you to not be mentally engaged with your surroundings and take your thoughts off of the road. A few types of cognitive distractions: talking with a passenger, reading any type of message or material on a cell phone or other device; even listening to the radio can be cognitively distracting at times.

The most common offense behind distracted driving is cell phone usage. Did you know that simply sending a text message involves all three types of distractions? Sending a text uses your hands (manual), requires thought for typing (cognitive) and can take your eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds (visual). Taking your eyes off the road for that (seemingly) small amount of time is equivalent to driving the length of a football field while blindfolded. An infinite number of things can occur in that amount of time, and accidents can occur in even less time.

The number of distracted driving injuries and fatalities are on the rise. With the increase of technology and a lack of responsibility being taught for the usage of that technology, our younger generations are the ones most at risk.

11% of all fatalities that occur with drivers under the age of 20 were reported as distracted driving accidents. Not only that, but 16% of ALL distracted driving crashes are caused by drivers under the age of 20. However, our younger generations are not being led by example. It is estimated that at any moment there are over 800,000 vehicles being operated by someone who is multi-tasking and also operating a cell phone.

The state of Indiana has a legal ban on all cell phone usage (whether hand-held or hands-free) for novice drivers, and in addition to that, there is a legal ban on texting and driving for drivers of all ages. Most of our states are implementing laws to enforce these principles and assist in keeping our roadways safer. Indiana has implemented these laws as primary, which means law enforcement can pull a driver over and ticket them for texting and driving in the state of Indiana.

Strong efforts are being made across the state to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving, and especially by the use of cell phones while driving. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, through their Traffic Safety Division, has laid out a strategic plan to continue the reduction of injuries and fatalities caused by all forms of accidents. In the section of their plan specific to young drivers, it reads, “the implementation of strengthened Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws in 2009 and 2010 has caused the number of young drivers in collisions to decline by 15.6 percent between 2009 and 2011. The GDL law seeks to reduce the number of young driver collisions by building driving experience through supervision and reducing driver distractions, including young passengers, nighttime travel, and cell phone use. Since the prohibition of drivers under the age of 18 from using cell phones, there has been a sharp decline in the number of crashes.”

While the efforts being made are beginning to show some reductions and improvements, according the State of Indiana’s Crash Fact Book for 2011 (the most recent year available), the “16 to 17 year old age group had the highest rate of drivers involved in all collisions in 2011 (882 per 10,000 licensed drivers)” and “drivers aged 18 to 20 years old had the highest rate of involvement in fatal collisions per 10,000 licensed drivers (2.5), followed closely by drivers aged 21 to 24 (2.4)”.

These statistics show there is still a long way to go in teaching roadway safety and the responsible use of technology while driving. Have you or a loved one been injured by a distracted driver? If so, you know firsthand how important it is to keep your mind, eyes and hands focused on driving when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle. Even a second of distraction can result in chaos and tragedy.

If you have suffered an injury or the loss of a loved one due to a distracted driving accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation to cover some of what you have lost. We understand the high costs of medical bills, the need to cover lost income and extra expenses, and even the cost of funeral and burial expenses. These expenses are ones most families are not prepared to face, and they can leave loved ones in a financial bind, on top of their emotional stress and grief. If you are suffering, please call the motor vehicle accident lawyers at Wagner Reese and let us assist you with your recovery. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve, and we won’t charge you a penny in the process. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 for more information on how we can help you through this time.

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