DISTRACTED DRIVING NEEDLESSLY ENDANGERS THE PUBLIC
As a personal injury trial lawyer in Fort Smith, I am surprised each year when I read the total number of car wrecks and accidents. In 2010, there were 3,171 totals accidents and 678 involved personal injury and 8 fatal accidents. It should be noted that there were probably far greater than 678 personal injury accidents, as many folks who are injured have delayed onset of symptoms. Of the 3171 accidents, 813 accidents were caused by drivers following too closely and 712 accidents were caused by drivers failing to yield the right of way. The number of auto accidents in 2010 is consistent with prior statistics from previous years. The total number of car wrecks and accidents as reported by the Fort Smith Police Department from 2006-2010 were as follows: 2006-3,649; 2007-3,650; 2008-3,484; 2009-3,213, and 2010-3,171.
Generally, car wrecks and accidents are caused by a failure of the driver to follow the safety rules of keeping a proper lookout, keeping his/her vehicle under control and/or driving at a speed that is not reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. Many times drivers violate these important safety rules because they are distracted while driving. Distracted Driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions needlessly endanger the safety of everyone on the highway, including drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Typical types of driver distractions include texting, using a cell phone, adjusting a radio, using a navigation system, reading, eating, drinking and talking to passengers.
Texting is the most alarming distraction because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the drivers.
Distracted driving poses danger to all Americans and the way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about these dangers. Key facts and statistics are kept by various government agencies and a quick review of these facts and statistics are powerfully persuasive of the dangers and safety problems caused by distracted driving. Here are some eye-opening national key facts and statistics:
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured. (NHTSA)
16% of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009. (CTIA)
In 2009, 16% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted. (NHTSA)
40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. (Pew)
Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Monash University)
Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (VTTI)
Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55mph-of driving the length of entire football field, blind. (VTTI)
Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)
Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hand-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol
concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
Using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%. (Carnegie Mellon)