Distracted driving is one of the greatest dangers that today’s drivers face. Many drivers overestimate their abilities to safely operate motor vehicles while also engaging in other activities, such as using their cell phones. Driving requires a driver’s full attention, however. Any amount of driver distraction or inattention can result in a serious car accident and personal injury. Get the facts about the threat of distracted driving in Nebraska and throughout the U.S.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving refers to operating a motor vehicle without dedicating 100 percent of your focus and attention to the driving task. This is dangerous driving behavior that is responsible for thousands of car accidents, serious injuries, and deaths throughout the country each year. If a driver is distracted, he or she may not notice changing roadway situations, such as a child running into the road, a stoplight turning red or a car stopping. The driver’s reflexes may also be slowed, with a delayed reaction that can lead to a collision.
Many different things can distract a driver from the road, including:
- Cell phones and electronic devices
- Food and beverages
- The radio
- GPS or maps
- Personal grooming
- Car accidents (rubbernecking)
All drivers in Nebraska have a legal responsibility to safely and prudently operate their vehicles. This means giving the driving task their full attention. If a driver fails to fulfill this responsibility, he or she can be responsible for a related car accident.
Distracted Driving Is On the Rise
In 2019, 3,142 lives were lost in the U.S. because of distracted drivers (source: the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration). This represented 8.7 percent of all traffic accident fatalities in 2019. The total number of deaths from 2012 to 2019 exceeds 26,000. Statistics show that distraction-related car accidents resulted in 284 more fatalities than in 2018, representing almost a 10-percent increase. This is a common pattern that the U.S. has seen over the last several years.
Traffic safety experts believe that the increase in deadly distracted driving accidents is due in part to a greater number of drivers using cell phones behind the wheel. Handheld electronic devices represent the most dangerous form of distracted driving, as texting and driving fulfill all three types of driver distraction: manual, visual, and cognitive. The NHTSA states that looking at a cell phone for just 5 seconds (the average amount of time it takes to read a text message) at a speed of 55 miles per hour is similar to driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.
Young Adults Are the Biggest Offenders
The age group that is responsible for causing the highest number of fatal distracted driving accidents is 16- to 24-year-olds. This has held true since 2007. Teenagers and young adults are more likely to engage in other activities while they drive – especially the use of a cell phone or another electronic device. They are also less experienced than their older counterparts, decreasing the ability to read roadway situations and avoid collisions. Finally, young drivers are more susceptible to peer pressure while driving, such as friends asking them to take pictures or videos while driving.
Distracted Driving Is an Ongoing Problem
Distracted driving endangers everyone on the road – not just the distracted driver. According to the NHTSA, about 1 in 5 people killed by distracted drivers in 2018 were pedestrians, bicyclists, and others outside of vehicles at the time of the collision. Distracted drivers put everyone around them at risk, including passengers, other drivers, and the road’s most vulnerable users. If distracted driving takes place in a school zone or residential area, for example, it can put small children at risk. Distracted driving is a serious threat to the entire community.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver in Omaha, Nebraska, consult with an Omaha car accident attorney about the right to file an injury claim.