Driving Distractions: Recognizing Risks and Finding Solutions

Driving distractions cause most auto accidents and near-accidents. According to a 2011 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distraction-related accidents account for 80% of car accidents annually, and 65% of near-accidents, in which a driver narrowly avoids a crash by last-minute action. If you are the victim of a distraction-related accident, contacting helpful attorneys can be extremely beneficial in recouping the many expenses of an auto accident.

Drivers can be distracted by many factors. Anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel and eyes off the road can cause a potentially fatal accident. Typical driver distractions include:

    o Being on the phone while driving
    o Texting while driving
    o Reaching for objects in the car
    o Looking at objects or situations outside the car
    o Reading
    o Eating
    o Applying makeup or other grooming tasks

Of these distractions, cell phone use and texting account for the highest number of crashes and near-misses. The NHTSA study notes that simply dialing the phone doubles the risk of a cell phone-related accident, and talking on the phone makes a driver 1.3 times more likely to have an accident than a non-distracted driver.

Although cell phone conversations raise accident risks, texting while driving poses the greatest risk of distraction. The highest risk of a distraction-related accident is linked to texting – 23 times higher than that of a non- texting driver. And while distractions can plague drivers of all ages, teen drivers are most at risk.

Since cell phones and other devices have become increasingly indispensable to modern life, the risk of distraction-related accidents is likely to remain high, and many cities have instituted public service programs to raise awareness of driving distractions, and enacted laws to eliminate the worst offenders. Bans on cell phone use while driving carry stiff penalties, and special restrictions on cell phones pertaining to teen drivers, especially new ones, aim to reduce the risk of potentially fatal crashes in that age group.

However, the most obvious solution for reducing distraction-related accidents is to educate drivers about the dangers of distractions and to take active steps to remove them: don’t text, take or make phone calls while driving, wait until the vehicle is stopped to eat or do other tasks, and keep attention focused on the road while you’re behind the wheel.