The Deadly Truth of Distracted Driving

It’s nearing late August, and everything is centering around “Back to School.” With more teens and young adults on the roads, traveling to and from high school or college, it’s a perfect time to review the dangers of distracted driving. While it’s not just young people who are guilty of this behavior, they account for a large portion. According to Distraction.gov, 1 of 4 teens respond to text messages at least once every time they drive. 1 of 5 teens and 1 of 10 parents admit to having extended text conversations while driving. In 2012, the number of injuries in the U.S. resulting from crashes caused by distracted driving was up 9% from the previous year, reaching an estimated 421,000. Austin alone has seen a striking rise in fatal crashes this year, halfway through the year already reaching the previous year’s total.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is defined as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” This behavior endangers the driver, passengers, and anyone nearby. While the term is usually associated with using a cell phone or other electronic device, distracted driving includes things such as eating and drinking, talking with passengers, grooming, reading (maps included), navigating, watching videos, adjusting music, adjusting car temperature.  If it’s not directly related to navigating the large, deadly projectile (i.e. your car) through traffic, it is a distraction and should be avoided or reduced to a minimum.

Worse than Drunk Driving

Alcohol and distractions result in different behaviors, but both are detrimental to focusing on a dangerous task. A study conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah suggested that, controlling for difficulty and time on task, “cell-phone drivers exhibited greater impairment than intoxicated drivers.”

Austin Hands Free Ordinance

As of January 1st, 2015, Austin initiated a Hands Free Ordinance which prohibits the use of all electronic hand-held devices while operating a vehicle or bicycle. Yes, it applies when you’re riding your bike as well. Cyclists, helmet or no helmet, are some of the most vulnerable travelers on the road and need to pay attention not just to their actions, but to the actions of those around them to maintain our roads’ safety. As of three months after the ordinance went into effect, APD issued 1,000 citations. Many statistics concerning distracted driving describe texting as the most dangerous of distracted driving behaviors since it requires visual attention. But texting is often the hardest behavior to catch and regulate since the phone is not necessarily visible to any nearby police officers.

Distracted driving can injure anyone in the vehicle’s path and is a danger to our streets. Educational campaigns like AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign and other strive to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving. While the city and other legal bodies can attempt to regulate distracted driving, it is up to the public to decide not to partake in distracted behaviors while driving.
If you have been the victim of a distracted bike or car accident contact an Austin personal injury lawyer; Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn will be happy to evaluate your case quickly and without cost. Call us at 512-474-0222, use the live chat on our website, fill out the form on this page, or email info@mcminnlaw.com