Distracted driving to blame for thousands of accidents each year

Driving while distracted leads to tens of thousands of injury-causing and fatal accidents annually.

The summer season has arrived in Oklahoma. As our weather warms, school gets out and families take off on vacation, the amount of traffic on our roads will spike dramatically, hitting a peak between Independence Day and Labor Day. We are now in the midst of what safety experts call the "100 deadliest days" for auto accidents each year. Many of the injury-causing and fatal car crashes that happen during the summer months are the result of driving while intoxicated, but thousands of others are caused by something else altogether: distracted driving.

The startling impact

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in 2014 alone, 3,129 people died in distracted driving-related car accidents, and more than 431,000 were injured. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this breaks down to 8 fatalities and nearly 1,200 injuries each day as a direct result of distracted driving.

Distracted driving in some form or another has been a problem for as long as cars have been on the road, but as our electronic devices become smaller, more portable and more integrated into our daily lives, the issue has once again taken center stage. Technically, the term "distracted driving" encompasses any activity that pulls the driver's main focus away from the task of driving; this can include eating, drinking, grooming, conversing with passengers, changing the music selection, using a GPS device, reading a map or reaching down to retrieve something from the floor or backseat.

The problem with texting

Texting behind the wheel has proven to be a veritable "perfect storm" of distraction, and it has gotten widespread attention in the form of public education campaigns and legislation. Oklahoma bans texting behind the wheel for all drivers (see Section 11-901d of the Oklahoma Statutes). This is because texting involves three distinct types of distraction:

  • Cognitive - eating up valuable brain power and resources that would otherwise be available to deal with traffic levels, road hazards, sudden lane changes, red lights, etc., to craft coherent messages
  • Manual - sending a text message requires the driver to take his or her hand(s) off the wheel to type in the letters
  • Visual - looking away from the road ahead to look down at the phone to read incoming messages or review outgoing ones before sending them

Sending a text message while driving requires the sender's attention to be away from the road for approximately five seconds. This may seem like a miniscule amount of time, but at highway speeds, that is long enough to travel the length of a football field, all while essentially blind. Clearly, that is a recipe for disaster.

Sadly, you or someone you love can be involved in a distracted driving-related accident through no fault of your own. You could suffer serious injuries, or a person you care about could lose their life. If a distracted driver has caused you harm, you may have legal options to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage and pain and suffering. For more information, contact Devinney Law Firm, P.C. Call them today at 580-765-9660 or toll free at 866-327-0545, or send an email.