There are more than 102 fatal car accidents every day in the United States, and about nine of these daily fatalities occur due to completely preventable distracted driving. Driving hinges strongly on muscle memory and millions of Americans drive every day out of necessity, causing some to fall into complacency and false sense of security that may lead to serious accidents and catastrophic injuries. Driving may feel like second nature to many drivers, but the reality is that distraction can lead even a seasoned driver into a serious accident.
Most Common Types of Distracted Driving
About 80% of drivers who cause traffic accidents report some type of distraction or inattention as the reason for their collisions. Since the advent of cell phones, distracted driving has reached epidemic levels in many areas of the country, and younger adults and teenagers are at special risk. Teens tend to use cell phones more than older adults and are more prone to reckless or dangerous driving due to inexperience. Roughly 82% of American teens own cell phones. 52% of teens with cell phones report talking on them while driving and 32% have admitted to texting while driving. Unfortunately, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) poll reported that about only one in five teens believes texting impacts driving ability.
Statistically, texting behind the wheel is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving under the influence. Since most Americans recognize the dangers of driving under the influence, logically distracted driving should hold more prominence in the minds of American drivers. Unfortunately, the modern dependence on cell phones and constant communication causes some drivers to disregard their duties of care to the other drivers on the road and cause serious car accidents.
Why Is Texting So Dangerous Behind the Wheel?
You may believe that tapping a quick reply to a text while driving would only equate to a few seconds of distraction, and you’d be right. However, it’s important to appreciate the distance a car can travel in just a few seconds and all of the things that may potentially go wrong in those few seconds. Texting while driving means looking away from the road and as little as five seconds means traveling a hundred yards or more of what is essentially driving blind.
Texting is also very dangerous because it encompasses the three major types of distractions possible behind the wheel, including:
- Visual distractions that cause a driver’s gaze to drift away from the road ahead.
- Manual distractions that require the driver to remove his or her hands from operating the vehicle.
- Cognitive distractions that divert a driver’s attention and focus away from the road.
Other Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents
While texting remains the leading cause of distracted driving-related injuries and fatalities, there are several other dangerous practices that may also lead to serious accidents. “Rubbernecking” or a driver turning his or her head to look at a roadside event, an accident, or police activity is another common cause of distracted driving accidents. Driving with passengers can also be distracting, and a driver may pay more attention to a conversation and events inside the vehicle than the road ahead.
Teen drivers are at a higher risk of distracted driving accidents because they generally lack caution and engage in smartphone use more than other age groups. Inexperience can also make it difficult for a young driver to avoid an accident. Parents of teen drivers should help their kids adopt safe driving habits as early as possible and set good examples for their children. Drivers of all ages should recognize the dangers of distracted driving and recognize that no text message is worth risking lives.