Distracted driving has become a public safety catastrophe. The newest buzzwords, “inattentional blindness," has been used to describe what happens when a person is talking on their phone while also trying to drive a vehicle. Inattentional blindness, according to the Transportation Research Board, is the failure to notice unexpected events due to an individual performing an attention-demanding task, even if the unexpected event occurs in the individual's line of sight. A study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign calls inattentional blindness a "failure of awareness."
“A failure of awareness” makes distracted driving sound like something you inadvertently do – the driving equivalent of pacing around the room while you are on the phone, or a child sticking out his tongue when he colors. Choosing to text while you drive is deliberate. While there are all kinds of distractions that can take drivers' attention from the task of driving, talking on a mobile phone and texting or emailing are leading causes of distracted driving that lead to collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes.
Distracted driving is as dangerous as driving drunk
If you were to ask the average person which activity was the most dangerous, drunk driving or distracted driving, chances are they would say drunk driving because we have all been exposed to images in the media about the deadly consequences of drinking and driving.
There have been several research studies that have shown that talking on the phone, whether hands free or hand-held, carries the same risk of causing a crash as driving with 0.08 blood alcohol concentration. A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) reports that the average person who is texting while driving takes their eyes off the road for 23 seconds to browse, dial and send text messages.
Tips for avoiding distracted driving
Turn your phone off, or turn off the ringer and notifications, and place it out of reach while you are driving. Most phones offer some version of "driving mode," which mutes notifications and sends an automated reply when you receive text messages while in drive mode. You should also:
- Pay attention to other cars. Not every driver will put his or her phone away.
- Model responsible driving behavior by showing your children how important it is to focus all your attention on driving rather than trying to multi-task.
- Establish rules about not using the phone while driving when your kids become old enough to drive.
- Take advantage of pre-set radio controls, or create a playlist that you can listen to while you drive.
- Turn the volume up on your GPS, so you can hear the directions, instead of looking at the screen.
Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. is a premier personal injury law firm in Maryland with skilled car accident attorneys who protect your right to recover the compensation you deserve. We help the injured obtain justice when their lives have been changed because of a crash. You can learn more about our services by calling 410-730-7737, or fill out this contact form.