No matter how long you’ve been behind the wheel, driving requires your full attention. You need to be alert mentally, physically, and auditorily at all times for the safety of yourself, your passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. As the facts will tell you, however, it can be difficult for some people to prioritize good driving over tasks like texting or eating.
The National Highway Traffic Administration reported that distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016. In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in car accidents while distracted. Texting is seen as the most alarming distraction because of the number of teens who die each year, as a result.
In Nebraska in 2015, 4,402 reported accidents were caused by distracted driving – 12 of which were fatal. According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, every day eight people are killed as a result of distracted driving, nationally. Distracted driving accounts for approximately 10 percent of all crashes in Nebraska and is just as dangerous as driving under the influence or speeding.
The deadliest driving distraction occurs when the minds wander from the task at hand. It happens to everyone. Maybe you’re on your way home from work on a Friday, contemplating your weekend plans, when all of a sudden you realize you’ve driven farther than you thought. While you may not immediately recognize this as an issue, moments like this account for the majority of distracted driving accidents.
2) Using a Cellphone
The second leading distraction is cell phone use. Whether you’re talking, texting, or posting, you’re not paying attention to the road. If you’re driving at a speed of 55mph, your vehicle travels approximately 80 feet per second. On average, it takes three to five seconds to read a text message. Once you do the math, you’ll realize in those few seconds you may have traveled 240 to 400 feet without looking at the road once.
In Nebraska, it is illegal for anyone to text and drive; however, handheld devices are allowed.
Rubbernecking happens when you get distracted by something outside your vehicle, like a car crash. The longer you have your head turned to view the scene of the wreck, the more likely you are to be in your own accident.
4) Interacting with Passengers
Whether you’re trying to get a snack to your toddler or having your own personal concert with your friend in the passenger seat, the passengers in your vehicle have the potential to distract you. If your passengers are demanding too much of your attention while driving, you may end up missing something important on the road ahead.
5) Reaching for Objects
Reaching for objects in your vehicle, like a dropped cell phone or water bottle, can distract you from driving. If you’re reaching for something in your car, you may not realize you’re drifting and heading off the road or into oncoming traffic.
6) Eating or Drinking
Schedules can get hectic and it can be difficult to balance work, family, and friends. You may think eating in your car will save you some time; however, even just moving your drink to and from the cupholder can distract you from your task at hand.
7) Adjusting Audio or Temperature Controls
While not as common, adjusting the stereo volume and A/C has been known to cause car wrecks.
8) Using Other Devices Integral to the Car
Navigating new territory in your car can be stressful, especially if traffic is heavy and you’re running late. Fiddling with your GPS system, mirror, or even seatbelt has the potential to distract you long enough to cause an accident.
9) Moving Objects
Moving objects in your vehicle, like swatting at a bug or making sure your dog doesn’t jump out the window can distract you. It’s best to keep your hands on the wheel.
While smoking is reportedly the least common driving distraction, lighting up or putting out a cigarette takes your mind and hands away from your car.
More information on the distractions listed above can be found in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Just one distracted driver can have an immensely devastating impact on the lives of others. Our Omaha, NE car crash lawyers are dedicated to bringing those drivers to justice and helping the victims find a way to recovery. If you’ve been hurt or injured in a car accident because of a distracted driver, we can help. Reach out to us for a free consultation.