The CDC defines distracted driving as any activity that involves visual, manual or cognitive distraction. In short, distracted driving refers to anything that takes a driver’s eyes or mind away from the road or anything that involves removing a driver’s hands from the wheel. Finding a song on the radio, checking a phone for directions, texting, talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup, searching for something in the glove compartment, and even talking to a passenger all count as distracted driving. Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because a driver faces all three types of distraction. According to the CDC, in the 5 seconds that it takes to read or send a text, a driver going 55 mph would cover the length of a football field. In 5 seconds, so much can go wrong.
According to 2015 data, the latest results available from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people were killed as a result of distracted driving, the most of any year on record. Of those victims, 67% were teenagers aged 16-19.
Car Accidents the Leading Cause of Death for Teens
This past spring, Northbrook-based Allstate Insurance published data from a 3 year long poll they conducted on distracted driving. The poll surveyed 7,600 drivers between 2013-2016 about habits behind the wheel that could be classified as distracted driving. The poll showed that 1 in 2 drivers admitted to texting while driving. 76% of drivers said they had average or below average knowledge of the potential dangers of texting while operating a car. Texting and driving seems an obvious culprit for car accidents, but what about talking on the phone? Allstate’s poll also revealed that 66% of those surveyed talk on the phone while driving. What’s even more surprising, is that so many drivers are engaging in distracted driving, but the majority disapprove of it. An AT&T-funded poll found that 95% of drivers are against distracted driving, but 71% are still using their smartphones behind the wheel.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens aged 16-19. CDC data also reveals that a variety of risk factors are responsible for the high rate of teen fatalities from motor vehicle accidents. The major risk factors include:
- A lack of realization of and appreciation for danger and potentially dangerous situations
- Speeding and tailing another driver
- The day of the week: Over 50% of all car accidents occur on the weekend
- Failure to use a seat belt: 2015 CDC data found that only 61% of high school students wear their seat belts while a passenger in someone else’s car.
- Drinking: Teens who drink and drive are more likely to crash than an older driver who has consumed alcohol.
Car Accident Deaths on the Rise
In October, results from a Bloomberg study were released that showed the number of fatal car crashes has risen 14% since 2015. Drivers who cause a crash are hesitant to admit that they were using a smartphone and driving, but experts acknowledge that rates of drinking and driving have decreased and the use of seat belts by drivers and passengers have increased over time. So what else could explain this rise in the death toll? The suspected culprit behind the uptick in fatalities is the increased use of smartphones behind the wheel. The data recently supplied by Allstate’s poll seems to reinforce this theory. Our blog previously addressed the difficulty in proving that a driver was using a smartphone at the time of an accident. However, no matter the cause, a distracted driver can be held responsible both criminally and civilly. By getting behind the wheel of a car, each driver accepts responsibility for their own safety, as well as the safety of those with whom they share the road.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident as the result of another driver’s actions, the Chicago car accident attorneys of Levin and Perconti can help you. Our firm has successfully tried and settled numerous motor vehicle accident cases in Illinois, including $10 million for a pedestrian accident and $6.5 million for a fatal rear-end crash. While laws in 47 states currently forbid texting and driving, preventative laws are not enough to keep us safe from a distracted driver. No one should be injured or lose their life because someone needed to make a phone call, send a text, or find a song on the radio. Please, contact us now by phone, email, or our online request form for a free consultation. Our Chicago car accident lawyers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.