With the rapid increase in smartphone users in and across the US, distracted driving has become a concern for traffic safety.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2018, 2841 individuals died in car accidents due to distracted driving. However, approximately 276,000 people were injured in the same year because of distracted drivers, while distracted-affected property damage only collisions totaled 659,000.
Due to the carelessness and negligence of distracted drivers, others are at risk of suffering from severe personal injuries. Every day in the US, nearly nine people die, and over 1000 get injured in accidents reported to have a distracted driver. In 2018, accidents due to distracted driving cost the US around 40 billion dollars in damage.
What is Distracted Driving?
As the term suggests, this type of driving distracts the driver’s focus from the road with other activities. These activities can be anything that diverts your attention off the road. Different states across the US have different distracted driving laws. But if we talk about South Carolina in particular, it is one of the few states that doesn’t ban cell phone use or texting while driving.
However, the state of South Carolina has allowed cities to enact bans if needed. Thus, many municipalities have put local bans on distracted driving into effect. These include Camden, Walhalla, Clemson, Mount Pleasant, Columbia, Hilton Head Island, West Union, and Beaufort.
It is strictly prohibited to drive while texting in Beaufort County for all drivers. The state prohibits drivers under 18 from cell phone use including, hand-held or hands-free devices. First-time offenders shall face a $100 fine. Third-time offenders can face a $300 fine along with being arrested. These laws vary from cities and counties.
3 Types of Distractions While Driving
Distractions while driving can be classified into three different types. These are:
Visual distraction occurs when the driver takes their eyes off the road, even for a couple of seconds; it can put the driver and others driving on the road at risk of a crash. Did you know that at 55mph speed, if a driver takes their eyes off the road for reading or sending a message for about five seconds, this is as far as covering a football field?
Needless to say that a glance away from the road lasting more than 2 seconds increases the risk of accident or near-collision by two times that of normal driving.
Some examples of visual distractions include:
- Looking at a passenger
- Looking outside the window instead of looking ahead
- Looking at the entertainment center or a GPS device
Anything can prompt the driver to take one or both hands off of the steering wheel. Some examples of manual distractions include:
- Eating and drinking while driving. These are manual distractions because the driver physically uses their hands to grab a drink or take a bite of their food instead of firmly holding onto the steering wheel.
- Smoking—although the number of smokers in the US has been on a decline for many years, there are still many people who smoke while driving. This activity falls under a manual distraction because the driver holds the cigarette in their hand for an extended period.
- Tending to a Child—This is yet another distraction that puts drivers and their loved ones at risk of accidents. Sometimes drivers become distracted by tending to a child, such as feeding them while driving, putting on their seatbelts, or picking up their toys. It’s important to understand that no matter how bad of a tantrum a child throws in the car, the driver should not take their hands or eyes off the road because it can cause severe injuries to the child in case of a car collision.
- Searching through a wallet or purse—Most adults carry their personal items in their purses and wallets, such as id cards, credit cards, mint, gum, and makeup. And sometimes, they use their hands to search through their bags for these items while driving. This act is hazardous as the driver may lose control of the vehicle when their hands are busy digging through the wallet or purse.
Therefore, to avoid such manual distractions while driving, switching off the cell phone and pulling over to handle a crying child or eating or drinking is advisable.
Cognitive Distractions, also known as mental distractions, distract the driver’s mind off the road and prevent them from safe driving. Though visual and manual distractions inherently involve cognitive distraction, the activities that fall under this category, in particular, are more mentally distracting than others.
These distractions are dangerous because it may seem like the driver is focused on the road, but the mind may have drifted off somewhere else. Thus, the driver, in reality, is not alert or attentive.
Let’s look at some examples to understand this better:
- Using a speech to text system to receive and send text and email messages is a high level of cognitive distraction
- Talking to another passenger in the car
- Listening to a podcast or audiobook
- Having a conversation on your hands-free device
All these distractions pose a high risk of accidents, potentially resulting in severe injuries for other drivers. Injuries may include spinal damage, head injuries, neck and back injuries, whiplash, broken bones, and fractures.
Contact us today if you or a loved one has been injured in a severe car accident because of a distracted driver.
At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C., our personal injury attorney can fight for you to recover full and fair compensation for injuries and losses incurred. We will help you through every step of the personal injury claim filing process to ensure that it goes smoothly and you were treated with justice.