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Distracted Driving Can Cost Lives Get The Compensation You Need

February 1, 2016

Did you know that distracted driving is the cause of around one out of every 10 fatal accidents in New Jersey? This means that many people who are injured or fatally wounded in New Jersey could be saved every year if drivers were paying attention to the road instead of to other distractions in or outside their vehicles. The New Jersey State Police data from 2014 reported this statistic to be true, along with the fact that the number of people driving while distracted is simply increasing each year, despite efforts to promote the dangers of texting and using a cellphone while behind the wheel.

What is Distracted Driving?

Put simply, distracted driving includes any activity that causes you to lose focus on the road while operating a vehicle.

Distractions can be divided into multiple broad categories:

  • Visual distractions, such as turning to speak to a passenger or child in the rear seat, cause you to take your eyes off the road.
  • Auditory distractions are sounds that cause your focus to change, such as listening to music or passenger talking
  • Manual distractions occur when your hands leave the steering wheel to do things like eat, drink, or use devices.
  • Cognitive distractions occur when your attention is diverted from driving, such as when you are overwhelmed by intense emotions or are too fatigued to operate a vehicle.

What is the #1 Driving Distraction?

The most common cause of a distracted driving incident is talking or texting. If you’ve been in a car accident recently, one of the things that you may have found is that the other driver was acting negligently by chatting on the phone or texting a friend. It’s important for you to know that these actions are illegal in most circumstances, so that could be enough of a reason for the other party to be at fault for the collision. If they are found to be at fault, then they will need to compensate you fairly for your injuries and suffering. You should hire a distracted driving accident attorney to assist you in your case and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

Distracted Driving: Common Behaviors

Before you get behind the wheel, it’s critical to understand the distinction between a personal distraction and a legal distraction, as many actions fall under the umbrella of “distracted driving.”  Here are some of the most common distracted driving behaviors:

  • driving while texting or engaged in a lengthy phone call
  • consuming food or a beverage
  • Smoking
  • applying makeup or turning to fetch something from the back seat
  • turning to face a backseat passenger
  • conversing with a passenger
  • utilizing technology, such as a GPS or sound system
  • focusing on the rearview mirror

Distracted drivers are unable to understand or process the information on the road. To put it another way, while you are preoccupied, your brain and visual processes will not coordinate.

Learn the Key Facts and Statistics About Distracted Driving

How many crashes are caused by distracted driving according to the National Safety Council? According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) most recent figures, distracted driving claimed the lives of over 3,000 individuals in 2020. Everyone on the road is impacted by distracted driving, whether or not you are the one doing it. There are various types of distractions, but taking some steps can help kids, parents, and other drivers avoid the negative effects of distracted driving. Here are some facts about distracted driving that highlight the seriousness of the issue.

  • Distracted driving contributed to 8.1% of all fatal auto accidents in 2020. (NHTSA)
  • Accidents caused by cell phone usage have been on the rise, causing the use of handheld cell phones while driving is prohibited in at least 23 states, while texting while driving is prohibited in 48 states (including the District of Columbia).
  • An estimated 8% of fatal crashes, 14% of injury crashes, and 13% of all motor vehicle traffic crashes that the police reported in 2020 were caused by distracted driving. (NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts)
  • Around 3,000 fatalities are caused by distracted driving each year. There were 3,142 cases in 2020, 3,119 in 2019, 2,628 in 2018, and 3,003 in 2017. (NHTSA)
  • Moreover, 324,000 injuries resulting from distracted driving were reported in 2020. (NHTSA)
  • Drivers aged 15 to 20 represented 7% of all fatalities and had the greatest percentage of distracted driving fatalities. (NHTSA)

How Has the Prevalence of Distracted Driving Changed Overtime?

Historical data from 2010 to 2018 suggests a decline in the number of distracted driving fatalities. However, when you compare the total number of distracted driving incidents to the overall number of collisions, distracted driving has continued to be a significant contributor, accounting for 14% to 17% of all collisions.

Impact of Distracted Driving

  • Getting into an accident. Even the most experienced driver can get into a crash if they become distracted, and the results could be fatal.
  • Productivity loss. Other effects, such as a driver’s performance, can result from lack of focus. However, even while distracted driving may not result in significant accidents or injuries, it could still affect your business since drivers may need to take time off or you may need to replace a vehicle, which would result in downtime and lost productivity.
  • Criminal charges. Even if it doesn’t result in accidents or fatalities, using a phone while driving while distracted can result in penalties, fines, and points on a driver’s license, which may have an impact on a driver’s ability to drive and their criminal records.
  • Loss of the ability to drive. Drivers may have their licenses suspended or revoked if they accrue too many penalty points.
  • Reputational damage. Being in the headlines as a result of a collision caused by a distracted driver is something that should never occur, both because of the problems related to the occurrence itself and because it damages your reputation. Prospective clients might be less inclined to do business with you, which would mean less chances for expansion. You also risk lowering your chances of being employed if it shows up on your criminal records.
  • Higher Insurance premiums

How Does Distracted Driving Affect Your Insurance?

Distracted driving can easily result in collisions or even make you press the throttle pedal harder. Moreover, drinking and driving can undoubtedly lead to distractions. If you are driving while distracted, the police in some places, like Kansas, may charge you with reckless driving. A charge of this nature can make it challenging for you to find employment, and it can undoubtedly influence your decision when looking for auto insurance, possibly leading to an increase in your premiums.

According to the Center for Policy and Research, distracted driving has resulted in a 16% national increase in insurance rates since 2011.

Protect Yourself from Distracted Driving Incidents

To best protect yourself from being involved in these dangerous situations, make sure you put your phone away while driving, remain vigilant on the road, program your navigation before setting off, and vow not to multitask when on the road.

Have you been involved in a distracted driving accident? Work with our experienced team of attorneys from Hoyt & Hoyt to get the best outcome for yourself today.

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