Distracted Driving and Car Crashes

Car Accident Lawyer

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system – anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, it’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing. According to a car accident lawyer Phoenix, AZ trusts, there are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

NHTSA states that 3,450 people were killed in 2016. 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.

During daylight hours, approximately 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.

Regarding adult and teen drivers, drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Students who reported frequent texting while driving were also less likely to wear a seatbelt, more likely to ride with a driver who had been drinking and more likely to drink and drive.

Many state  drivers’ license manuals, like Arizona’s state that a driver must avoid distractions while driving, such as:

  • Using a phone, texting or using other electronic handheld devices.
  • Searching for an item dropped on the seat.
  • Tending to children.
  • Fastening a safety belt while driving.

Further, there is a potential crash in every minor distraction, pull off the road safely and stop if you are going to use a cell phone or send/receive a text message. Use of these devices while driving may result in a distracted driving behavior, and is dangerous. While operating a motor vehicle, both hands should be on the steering wheel, to allow the driver full control of the vehicle.

AAA has reported on the continuing research regarding the issue of the dangers of distracted driving, and drivers’ use of hands-free technology.

A University of Utah study cited by AAA confirmed that drivers using voice commands to send and receive text messages experienced significant levels of mental distraction, which compromised their driving performance.

Some activities, like listening to a text or an email, are less demanding than composing a message, and some voice activated tasks of short duration are less distracting than tasks of longer duration.

However, the point is that hands-free technology does not minimize all driver distraction, and it may increase it. Cognitive distraction, or plain and simple mental overload, occurs when a driver takes on too many or complicated tasks.

According to AAA, the number of vehicles with built in “infotainment systems” on American roads is expected to rise from 7 million today to 370 million by 2020.

AAA confirms that hands-free isn’t distraction or risk free, the safety of all of us is at stake.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at the Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC for their insight into car accidents and personal injuries.