Editor’s note: This is the first in our four-part blog series about distracted driving.

Distracted driving accidents have been rising to epidemic proportions not just in the New England area, but nationwide. Several states, including Rhode Island, have enacted legislation to curb the negative effects of distracted driving. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one out of 10 car accidents is caused by a distracted driver, and that is a scary statistic.

evening traffic with one in ten drivers distracted driving

What is Distracted Driving?

In order to avoid distracted driving, it is first important to understand what constitutes distracted driving. Basically, distracted driving is an activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions during driving pose a serious danger not only to the driver, but also to passengers, other motorists and bystanders.

driver texting being a distracted driving

The most common types of distractions while driving include texting, using a cell phone, eating and drinking, grooming, applying makeup, reading maps or looking at navigation systems, watching videos, and adjusting temperature controls or the radio. Texting is considered the worst form of distraction while driving because it takes your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel and attention away from the task of driving.

Crucial Facts and Statistics

bad car accident caused by distracted drivingHere are some of the important facts and statistics every driver should know about distracted driving:

  • In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers.
  • As of December 2013, 153.3 billion text messages were sent out in the United States.
  • Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of distracted drivers in fatal car accidents.
  • About 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted at the time of the crash.
  • The average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s sufficient time to cover the length of an entire football field – blindfolded.
  • About 25 percent of teens respond to a text message once or more each time they drive. About 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit they have extended, multi-message text conversations when they drive.

Recent Research

driver using hands free while driving

Research about the dangers of distracted driving is ongoing. According to a new study released this week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, even hands-free technology can mentally distract drivers. Researchers found that potentially unsafe mental conditions could occur for as long as 27 seconds after a driver sends out a text message using voice commands. Examples of distracted actions from motorists may include blowing through a stop sign or failing to see pedestrians in crosswalks. This study shows that even hands-free use can put motorists, passengers and bystanders in significant danger.

Protect Your Rights

client hurt by distracted driving meeting a personal injury lawyerAs Rhode Island car accident lawyers who represent injured victims and their families, we at d’Oliveira & Associates encourage each and every driver to understand the dangers of distracted driving and be responsible about it. No call or text is worth risking your life or the lives of others. If you or someone you know was in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering, among other losses. For a free no obligation case evaluation, call us toll-free at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form online.

Author Photo

Paul d’Oliveira

Attorney Paul d’Oliveira has been practicing personal injury and disability law for over 30 years. He started his personal injury law practice in 1989 with two offices in Fall River, MA and East Providence, RI. Today his firm has 15 offices in RI and Southeastern, MA.

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