It’s estimated that on any given day approximately 660,000 drivers will use an electronic device while driving at some point. Distracted driving is a rapidly growing epidemic continuing to plague the country and Texas is not immune. In fact, the number of distracted driving crashes in Texas shot up by over 8,000 in the span of a year from 100,825 in 2016 to 109,658 in 2017. That equates to 2,108 distracted driving related crashes a week.
The map below highlights police reported and self reported distracted driving incidents across the country. While some states are better than others, not a single state is distraction free. Thus, it’s important to take this month to reflect on why we choose to give in to distractions and how we can prevent them from commanding our attention.
Distracted Driving Statistics
It’s easy to shrug off distracted driving accidents as something that only happens to people who can’t multitask well or those who excessively check their phones, but it only takes one 4.6 second glance away from the road to end up in a wreck. Texting while behind the wheel can have serious consequences. Below are statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash.
Over 3,000 Americans are killed each year as a result of distracted driving and another 350,000 are injured.
412 fatal crashes and 455 deaths were a result of distracted driving in Texas in 2016.
18,858 Texans were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2016.
The average text takes 5 seconds to respond to. That’s enough time to travel the length of a football field at 55mph.
Of course, understanding the dangers of cellphone use behind the wheel is only the first step to reducing road accidents. The next step is taking action to curb unhealthy driving behaviors.
Distracted Driving Prevention Tips
There are a number of tips you and your family can apply to prevent distracted driving. To prevent your focus from wandering off the road you should:
Use bluetooth and voice commands sparingly: While voice technology allows you to interact with your eyes on the road, it can still provide distraction. Voice technology can divert your attention off the road and should only be used when you feel you absolutely need to.
Let your passengers do the work: Your hands are tied to the wheel, but your passengers hands are completely free. If you’d like to shuffle the songs on your playlist, send a text, or enter new directions into your GPS, it’s better to have the passengers in your car do so rather than trying to do it yourself.
Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone: You may feel some slight separation anxiety, but parting with your phone is the best thing you can do for your drive. You could hide your phone or keep it out of sight, but shutting it off is the best way to ensure you aren’t tempted to use it. Your texts and calls can wait until after you get off the road.
Those who aren’t ready to commit to turning their phone off may find that their phone could actually help them break the habit of texting while driving.
Phones May Be Both The Problem & The Answer
While it seems counterintuitive, the solution to end distracted driving might be the mobile device that created the problem in the first place. There are a number of safe driving apps like the Lifesaver App and AT&T Drive Mode that either lock your phone while the car is in motion or monitor and score your driving behaviors.
Free Distracted Driving Awareness Course
Safe driving apps are helpful, but they are a bandaid masking the real problem. If drivers were more cognizant of the ramifications of driving with their eyes off the road, they’d think twice before pulling their phones out while behind the wheel. Education is an important tool in fighting the distracted driving epidemic, which is why the National Safety Council is offering a free 45-minute distracted driving course from April 15th-21st. Parents or teachers can use the course to educate their teens on the dangers of phone use while driving.
Likewise, Patterson Law Group has conducted an awareness and education campaign for the past two years. The annual #ArriveAliveTX scholarship is offered to students around the country who use their creativity to submit ideas and campaigns that can help drastically reduce distracted driving. The campaign has reached students from over 48 different colleges and Universities and continues to provide students with a greater understanding of distracted driving dangers.
There isn’t a single call or text that is more valuable than a life. Fort Worth would be a much safer place to drive if we could all put our phones away during commutes.
What If I’m Involved In A Distracted Driving Accident?
If you’ve been injured in an accident as a result of another driver’s inattention, you deserve compensation for your injuries. There are several ways to prove someone was distracted while driving in court. Sometimes individuals admit it when placed under oath. Occasionally, eye witnesses are able to testify that a driver was distracted at the time of an accident. Alternatively, expert witnesses can sometimes analyze call logs and GPS coordinates to scientifically prove the driver was using their phone at the time of the accident.
The attorneys at Patterson Law Group can help you earn the justice you deserve for your distracted driving accident. Dial 817-784-2000 or fill out the contact form to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney.