Accidents involving distracted driving seem to be in the headlines every day. At the end of April, Komo News reported another accident when a driver, reaching for an item, lost control of their SUV, crashed through two fences, and then hit a power pole in Edgewood, Washington. The air bags were deployed, and luckily, no one was hurt. However, not everyone involved in distracted driving accidents is so lucky; fatalities across the nation and in Washington State are on the rise.
The Annual Collision Summary of 2015 reported that distracted or inattentive drivers account for the most number of fatalities and serious injury accidents on Washington’s roads. The statistics highlight the seriousness of the problem:
- An inattentive or distracted driver was involved in a crash every 12 minutes.
- Fatalities involving distracted drivers increased 32% between 2014 and 2015.
- 46,000 of the 114,000 accidents recorded in 2015 involved a distracted driver.
- In Seattle, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 187% more crashes in 2016 than it was in 2011.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from safe driving. There are 3 main types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off driving.
Common examples of distractions:
- Talking or texting on the phone.
- Checking social media.
- Eating and drinking.
- Fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system.
- Talking with other passengers or tending to children or pets.
- Picking up dropped objects from the floor.
- Personal grooming tasks (i.e., shaving, putting on makeup, brushing hair).
Consequences of Distracted Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- 3,450 people were killed in 2016.
- 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.
- Approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured each day in crashes involving a distracted driver.
- 10% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
- 551 non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and others) were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
Cellphones Top Distraction for Drivers
During daylight hours, approximately 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. Texting is the most alarming distraction:
- 442 fatal crashes were reported to have involved cell phone use as a distraction (14% of all fatal distraction-affected crashes) in 2015.
- Texting while driving reduces a driver’s attention level to that of a person with an alcohol level of 0.08%.
- Drivers who type text messages while driving are 6 times more likely to crash than those who don’t text while driving.
- Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, and at 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed!
Who Is at Risk?
Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
- 9% of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes.
- 42% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days reported sending a text or email while driving in 2015.
- 94% of teen drivers acknowledged the dangers of texting while driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.
- Texting while driving increases a teen’s risk for having an auto accident by 400%.
Car Accident Attorney Jason Epstein Advocates for Change
After learning about the steady increase in fatalities involving texting while driving, Premier Law Group attorney, Jason Epstein, decided to act. He founded the non-profit organization, Teens Against Distracted Driving (TADD) to promote safe driving practices, especially for teens who are most likely to be distracted by cellphone usage. TADD partners with schools and youth leadership councils to raise awareness and educate the community about the dangers of distracted driving.
Legal Expertise with Compassion
We understand how overwhelming it can be to experience a traumatic car accident, and we do everything in our power to minimize the impact on your life.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, it is important to have expert legal representation that will fight for you to obtain the compensation and justice that you deserve.
Premier Law Group is here to answer your questions and provide information, so you can make an informed decision about moving forward (whether we represent you or not). Please call for a FREE consultation with one of our attorneys at 206.285.1743.