Former Dallas Cowboys alum, Michael Irvin speaks out against distracted driving in the studio with car wreck lawyer Ryan Thompson. Distracted driving has led to the death of 3,166 people in 2017 alone. Simply taking your eyes of the road for 5 seconds at 55mph is like driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed.
We live in a world where we have seemingly limitless access with the touch of a button. Our technology savvy society brings the pressure to stay connected at all times, even while driving. In a study conducted by the Zebra about American’s driving behavior and attitudes, 37% of respondents aged 18-34 stated that they felt a high degree of pressure to respond to work-related messages while driving.
Distracted driving is in line with driving while impaired in terms of risk and dangers. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 1 in every 5 car accidents in Texas is due to distracted driving, a ratio that has not decreased in the past 4 years, even with the emerging emphasis to keep our focus on the road.
“Driving while texting” and “driving while distracted” may seem interchangeable, however, distracted driving encompasses a lot more than just checking your phone while driving. Distracted driving refers to any time you are paying attention to anything other than the road while driving. There are various form of distracted driving, including:
- Texting and driving
- Talking on the phone while driving
- Smartphone usage (social media, Snapchat, web browsing, etc.)
- Eating while driving
- Putting makeup on while driving
- Playing with the radio and driving
- Interacting with passengers and pets while driving
Driving while distracted is dangerous and accounts for 9% of all fatal crashes. Distracted driving also has major ramifications related to traffic safety, violations, and insurance rates.
Types of Driver Distractions
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are 3 types of distracted driving:
- Manual Distraction – taking the hands off the wheel to do a task (reach for an item, adjust the radio, pet their dog, etc.)
- According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), 31% of drivers get distracted by their pets in the car. While 80% of people admitted to driving with their pets, only 17% of those used a pet restraint, such as a kennel or seatbelt.
- A driver is 8 times more likely to be involved in a crash when reaching for an object and 3 times more likely to crash while eating or drinking.
- Visual Distraction – involves taking the eyes off the road to look somewhere else (looking at an accident, text message, kids in the backseat, navigation system, etc.)
- Cognitive Distraction – involves a driver taking their mind off driving to daydream, think of work problems, thinking about something other than driving
Top 10 Causes of Distracted Driving
- 62% – Generally Distracted or “Lost in Thought”
- The leading cause of distracted driving fatalities is a driver’s mind wandering while driving.
- 12% – Cell Phone Use
- The 2nd leading cause of deaths due to distraction-related car wrecks is using cell phones while driving (even hands -free!) can distract us in many ways.
- 7% – Outside person, Object, or Event
- Looking at something outside the car such as a car accident (rubbernecking) or at other people in their cars, billboards, etc. is a huge distraction!
- 5% – Other Occupants
- Other people in the car can place demand for your attention while driving
- 2% – Using or Reaching for A Device in Car
- We are all aware of the dangers of texting while driving, but so is reaching for your phone and other objects while driving.
- 2% – Eating or Drinking While Driving
- We may all be guilty of this one. Many people are rushed for time and may eat a burger while driving. Even using a cupholder may come as a distraction.
- 2% – Adjusting Climate or Audio Controls
- Fiddling with the radio or A/C for even a moment is a factor in car accidents
- 1% – Using Devices/Controls to Operate Vehicles
- Adjusting things such as seatbelts or mirrors play a relatively minor role in distraction-related accidents
- 1% – Moving Objects
- Moving objects in the car such as a pestering insect or pet can lead you to take your eyes off the road. Property Casualty 360 suggested that this may be an underreported cause of distraction.
- 1% – Smoking-Related
- 1 in 100 accidents reported are related to lighting a cigarette or putting it out.
As the former Cowboy and our car wreck attorney discussed, the one factor all of these distractions share is the fact that the driver is paying attention to something other than driving. Complacency is the reason many drivers feel they can take their eyes and mind off the road. After drivers get comfortable, they forget just how dangerous it can be – because they are complacent to the risks of driving.
Is Distracted Driving or Drunk Driving More Dangerous?
Distracted Driving Laws in Texas
As of September 1, 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a statewide ban on wireless communication devices for electronic messaging while operating a vehicle. Texting, as well as reading or writing an email, is prohibited while driving on the roads in Texas.
In Texas, first-time violators could face a misdemeanor charge and a fine between $25 to $99. Repeat offenders could receive a penalty of up to $200.
Local areas may have passes stricter ordinances while completely limit any type of cell phone usage while driving.
- Drivers cannot send or receive electronic messages while driving in Texas.
- Drivers with learner’s permits are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving.
- Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communications devices while driving.
- School bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones while driving if children are present.
- In school zones, all drivers are prohibited from texting and using handheld devices while driving.
- Local restrictions: Drivers should become familiar with any ordinances in effect in their local areas. Drivers should contact their local municipality to determine if there are additional laws governing the use of cell phones.
Call Thompson Law if You Have Been Injured in an Accident with a Distracted Driver
If you are a victim of an accident in which the other person was distracted – such as texting and driving – trust our specialists in car wrecks and Cowboy alum Michael Irvin, and contact Thompson Law as soon as you can. We offer obligation-free consultations during which time we will go through your claim details and explain all your legal options. Should you let us represent you, you will pay no fees unless we win your case. Call Thompson Law today!