As we’ve discussed before, distracted driving is the second leading cause of car accidents in the United States.
From another perspective, distracted driving was identified as the cause in 18% of car accidents in the U.S. in 2010 – by the numbers, 3092 fatalities and 416,000 injuries resulted from car accidents caused by distracted driving.
A fatality is the worst outcome, like this story of 9-year old Erica Forney in Colorado Springs. While riding her bike home two days before Thanksgiving in 2008, Erica was struck by an SUV going 25 mph. The driver of the SUV had just completed a phone call and was distracted just long enough at the wrong time.
Stories like this are all too common across Colorado and the U.S…
To better recognize and combat distracted driving, it’s important to understand what it involves. The U.S. Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as:
“any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing”
Cell phone use and texting are most cited examples of distracted driving. However, the term covers a broad range of activities while driving, and can include just about anything. Some other common examples include:
- Talking to passengers
- Reading maps
- Using a navigation system
- Adjusting a radio or CD player
- Talking on a cell phone
It’s important to remember that taking your focus off of the road puts you, your passengers, other drivers and bystanders’ safety at risk.
Colorado has two laws related to distracted driving specific to cell phones. First, no driver under 18 may use a cell phone while driving, unless it’s for an emergency. Also, ALL drivers in Colorado are prohibited from texting while driving.
Texting while driving is perhaps the most dangerous form of distracted driving since it requires all three types of attention from the driver – visual, manual and cognitive.
A University of Utah study in fact draws a few parallels between cell phone use/texting and drunk driving. Results from the study conclude that using a cell phone while driving reduces reaction time to that of a driver who has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% concentration.
Even though there are laws specific to cell phones and texting, every driver has the responsibility to maintain their focus on the road. It only takes a split second for tragedy to strike. If you’re the parent of a teen who’s just starting to drive, be sure you educate them about the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of being focused on driving when they’re behind the wheel.
Check out resources like the U.S. DOT website on distracted driving, as well as our car accident knowledge center, for more tips for teaching your teen and better understanding distracted driving. Leading by example is the best way to help them learn though…
If an accident does occur due to distracted driving, a driver can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by their actions.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident caused a distracted driver, you may be eligible for compensation. To discuss your individual case, contact Denver car accident attorney R. Mack Babcock and associates today for a free consultation.