Distracted driving is a serious problem nationwide. As a matter of fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, reports that in 2015 alone, over 3,400 people were killed in crashes resulting from distracted driving, and over 390,000 were injured. NHTSA estimates that over 660,000 people are using electronic devices while driving each day.
In our own state of Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation reports that there were 68 deaths and 15,574 crashes in 2015 that were directly caused by distracted driving. And unfortunately, fatalities caused by distracted driving are on the rise. In 2014, 12% of Colorado traffic fatalities were caused by distracted driving, rising to 13% in 2015.
Age is certainly a factor in distracted driving cases. CDOT has found that over 37% of all distracted driving crashes in Colorado between the years 2012-2014 were caused by people aged 21-34.
Of course, cell phone use is number one on the list of driver distractions, but talking on the phone is by no means the only distraction drivers have to contend with. In a recent report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, researchers observed over 24,000 drivers and found the following distractions, listed in order from the most frequent to the least frequent:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Texting while driving
- Reaching for objects in the car
- Grooming (makeup, hair, etc.)
- Interacting with passengers
- Changing dashboard controls such as radio or heat
- Pets loose within the car
- Adjusting clothing, such as tying a tie
- Outside distractions such as detours, signs, accidents, etc.
- Attending to children within the car
- Using headphones or earbuds
Three Types of Distracted Driving
Anything that takes your attention off the road can be considered a distraction, but there are three main categories of distractions: cognitive, visual, and manual. Some of these things are so simple and common that you might not even realize that they’re dangerous. And very often, a distraction falls into more than one category.
A cognitive distraction is any distraction that affects the driver’s mental focus. When the driver is distracted by thinking of something other than driving, it will affect their ability to concentrate on the road, other vehicles, and surroundings. Examples of cognitive distractions would be driving while angry after getting in a fight with a partner, driving while crying, or driving while stressed out and upset. All of these distractions take some of your mental energy away from the act of driving your vehicle.
A visual distraction is one where the driver’s attention is drawn away from the road to other areas or things. They may look out the window, or even at another place within their vehicle. An animal might be on the side of the road, or an accident could have occurred, and a driver stares at it as they drive past. Visual distractions are so dangerous because if you’re not focused on the road and vehicles ahead of you, you can’t anticipate sudden changes in traffic flow.
A manual distraction is one where your hands are removed from the steering wheel. Examples would be adjusting the interior temperature controls, finding a CD to put in the CD player, smoking, or searching for something within your vehicle.
And there are some distractions, such as texting while driving, that fall into all three categories.
Devices and Distracted Driving
Distracted driving experts believe that texting or surfing the internet while driving are the deadliest forms of distraction. Tablets and smartphones make it seem easy to do these things while driving, but as we all know, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Let’s consider texting. If you’re driving a vehicle and texting at the same time, you:
- Don’t have both hands on the steering wheel because one is holding your phone;
- Are dividing your visual energy between the phone and the road;
- Are dividing your mental energy between driving, spelling, typing, and reading.
The results of such a distraction are severe, can be catastrophic, and are very often deadly.
Colorado has instituted laws that make it illegal to text, email, or post to social media sites while driving. If you’re under 18, it is illegal to use a cellphone for any purpose while driving. The aim is to reduce cellphone and device usage while driving for the age groups that are most apt to do so. It is hoped that in doing so, fewer accidents involving injuries and fatalities will result.
If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver
If you have been injured in an accident where a distracted driver was at fault, we at Marathon Law want you to know that we are here for you, to fight for your right to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of income. Because of the technological advances we’re all accustomed to, we’re used to multitasking and doing many things at one time. And some people have gotten comfortable – maybe too comfortable, with these practices. Technology is one aspect of the distracted driving problem, but so, too, are eating and drinking, turning on the radio, fiddling with the heat or air conditioning, putting on makeup, even reading at the wheel.
You are entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver. You have medical bills that need to be paid, possibly ongoing treatments, time off work and lost wages, and the pain and suffering you’ve endured because of the accident. You’re also entitled to compensation for any property damage to your vehicle. You are owed fair compensation, and we at Marathon Law are experts in the legal field of personal injury. We can take the burden of seeking fair and just compensation off your shoulders so that you can devote your energy to healing.
We encourage you to contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. You can reach us by phone at 303-704-1222 or via our online contact page.