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Staying Safe on the Road: More than Just Cell Phones Distract Drivers

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert

Person texting while driving

Texting while driving is notoriously dangerous.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) refers to texting as “the most alarming distraction” because sending or reading a text while driving at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Although texting while driving remains a serious public health concern, it is important to note that distracted driving includes other activities that drivers may not recognize.  For example, a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that certain features of in-vehicle information systems in newer cars are too distracting to use while driving, such as destination entry for navigation.  This is concerning because these features are enabled while motorists are driving, which may result in drivers assuming the features are safe and easy to use while driving.  A follow-up study determined that using certain information system features while driving created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers and the safety risk was more noticeable in older adults, who demonstrated slower reaction times and took longer to complete tasks when compared with younger drivers.  This is particularly concerning because it is projected that approximately 1 in 5 Americans will be over 65 years old by 2030.

What is Distracted Driving?

The NHTSA defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving” and offers the following examples:

  • talking or texting on the phone
  • eating and/or drinking
  • talking to passengers in your vehicle
  • adjusting the stereo, entertainment or navigation system

Distracted driving is a growing concern in the U.S., with 3,142 people killed and an estimated 324,652 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2020. Tragically, a distracted driver can hurt other drivers as well as people not in a car at the time of a crash, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2019, 1 in 5 people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver were not in vehicles.

How Can You Prevent Distracted Driving?

The CDC recommends taking the following actions to prevent distracted driving:

  • As a driver:
    • Never multitask while driving
    • Consider trying an app to help you avoid cell phone use while driving
  • As a passenger:
    • If the driver is distracted, ask them to focus on driving
    • Reduce driver distractions by assisting with navigation or other tasks
  • As a parent of a teen or young adult driver:
    • Talk to your teen or young adult about driving rules and responsibilities
    • Learn your state’s graduated driver licensing system and enforce its guidelines for your teen
    • Familiarize yourself with your state’s laws on distracted driving
    • Set consequences for distracted driving and create your family’s rules of the road
    • Be a good example when you are driving

What Can You Do If You or Your Loved One Are Victims of a Distracted Driving Crash?

In Connecticut, motor vehicle crash victims and their families have the right to seek total compensation for crash-related losses, including medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other non-financial losses.

If you were injured or you lost a loved one in a distracted driving crash, you should speak with a lawyer right away.  A lawyer will be able to assist you with investigating the crash, collecting essential evidence, and proving your claim for damages.  Contact the experienced lawyers at Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC if you have questions about your legal rights following a distracted driving crash in Connecticut.  To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call or contact us online today.