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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 421,000 people were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver in 2012. This figure was an increase of approximately 9 percent from the previous year, an increase many observers blame on the growing popularity and availability of personal electronic devices such as smart phones. To combat this growing problem, several states have implemented laws limiting cell phone use by drivers with varying degrees of success.
In Florida, drivers are banned from texting, but may still use cell phones for voice communication while driving. Regardless of whether the distraction is a text message or involves reassigning a radio preset button, distracted driving is almost always negligent driving. As a result, many people injured in distracted driving accidents may be able to recover for any injuries or other losses they sustain due to an accident with a distracted driver.
3 Types of Driver Distractions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that there are 3 main types of distractions that can affect drivers. They are:
- Visual distractions – Visual distractions occur when a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road.
- Manual distractions – This kind of distraction involves a driver taking his or her hands off of the wheel to engage in another task.
- Cognitive distractions – Mental distractions occur when a driver is thinking about something other than driving.
Distractions do not have to fit neatly into one of these categories, and may actually combine two or even all three types of distractions, making them particularly dangerous. For example, texting and driving requires drivers to look at their phones, manipulate a keypad or touchscreen with their hands, and think about the text that they are reading or composing. While texting is a prevalent and especially dangerous form of there are many other things that could potentially distract a driver. Some of the most common include the following:
- Using a GPS device
- Adjusting the radio
- Watching a video
- Applying makeup
- Looking at an object or scenery
- Reaching for an object
- Browsing the internet
- Using a map
Several studies have indicated that distracted driving significantly increases a person’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. For example, according to a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), drivers who engaged in visual-manual subtasks like reaching for a phone, dialing, and texting were 3 times as likely to be involved in a car crash than those who were not distracted.
While hands-free and text-to-speech technology has been touted as a safe alternative to cell phone use while driving, data indicates that cognitive distractions alone may also significantly increase a driver’s risk of being involved in an accident. A separate study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that using voice-activated email features created an “extensive risk” for drivers, and that even simply talking on the phone resulted in a “moderate risk.” After an accident involving a distracted driver, victims should be sure to discuss their case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
A lawyer familiar with distracted driving car accident cases will be able to review the circumstances of your accident and determine whether any evidence of driver distraction exists. You can call us at (386) 777-7777 or fill out our online contact form below for a free case evaluation.