You can’t truly multitask as much as you would like to think so. That includes doing other things while driving. Creating distractions endangers you, your passengers, and everyone else on or near the road.
Highway fatalities were up to 46,000 in the U.S. in 2022, an increase of 22% from 2021. How many were caused by distracted driving is only a guess because accurate information is difficult to obtain.
How Common is Distracted Driving?
Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the Los Angeles Times that distracted driving is an epidemic. Preventable collisions are killing Americans and causing hundreds of thousands of life-changing injuries like brain injuries, broken bones, and horrible burns.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that of the 38,824 highway deaths nationwide in 2020, 3,142 (less than 10%) were caused by distracted drivers. The agency also states there were 324,652 distracted driving-related injuries. NHTSA also reports Kentucky had 120 fatal collisions caused by distracted drivers in 2021, more than 30% more than in 2020, reports WAVE.
But those numbers may significantly underestimate the problem. The National Distracted Driving Coalition (NDDC) estimates between 25% to 30% of fatalities are caused by distracted driving, but the actual numbers are unknown.
The NDDC released a report in December with data from various distracted driving studies and surveys. One survey showed:
- 67% of respondents were “concerned” about hand-held phone use while driving
- 80% stated they were concerned about texting while driving
A 2022 Travelers Insurance Company survey showed that while driving:
- 77% admitted they used a phone
- 74% stated they used cellphone maps
- 56% responded they read a text or email
- 27% admitted to updating or checking social media
- 19% stated they shopped online
If this survey accurately shows what drivers are doing, nearly one in five drivers around you, while you’re running errands or going to work, are shopping while driving.
We Know Distracted Driving is Dangerous. Do We Need to Know How Many Do It?
The NDDC is trying to improve available data to give a better picture of how much damage distracted drivers cause. They want to use new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to accurately measure how common distracted driving has become and develop ways to reduce it.
Getting accurate data isn’t just good for academic studies or press releases. If the extent of a public safety problem is unknown, it’s more difficult for the government to make changes to limit the dangers, to convince drivers not to drive while distracted, or get smartphone and vehicle manufacturers to take steps to make driving safer.
Federal and state legislators are resistant to creating stricter distracted driving laws in part because so many of their constituents are distracted drivers who don’t appreciate the dangers or who don’t want to be held accountable. The NDDC believes none of these parties misunderstand the scope of the problem, so they aren’t in a position to decide what should or shouldn’t be done.
There are many reasons we don’t fully grasp how big a problem distracted driving is:
- The nation’s car crash data system is decades old and isn’t technologically up to date
- Different states and police departments aren’t collecting data consistently or accurately. Paper accident report forms may not have check boxes or sections for distracted driving
- Distracted driving is rarely a clear cause at accident scenes. Other causes, like speeding or drunk driving, are easier to establish
- Proving a driver was distracted while using a smartphone can be lengthy and complex. Drivers may not admit to what they were doing before the crash. They and any witnesses in the vehicle may also be killed in the crash
Distracted driving laws exist in many states, including Kentucky, but they differ in what’s considered a distraction, penalties, and how much a priority enforcement is.
Will it Help My Case if We Can Prove the Other Driver Was Distracted?
Distracted driving is not only a public safety issue but one in personal injury lawsuits. If you’re injured in a crash involving a vehicle driver, if you can establish their negligence caused the crash which caused your injury, you may be able to obtain compensation from their or their insurance company.
Negligence is usually shown by evidence establishing the other driver wasn’t operating reasonably given the circumstances. That could be speeding, running a stop sign, driving while intoxicated, or while using a smartphone or texting. It’s negligent and dangerous because focusing on something other than driving, especially in heavy traffic or at highway speeds, is more likely (like speeding or being intoxicated) to cause an accident.
Were You in a Car Accident in Kentucky and Need an Attorney?
If you are injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver and need a lawyer, call The Fleck Firm for a free consultation at (270) 446-7000. We’ll discuss the accident, your injuries, the law, and your best options. Insurance companies have lawyers. You should have one too.