Watch the road. Check your mirrors. Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to your driving. It all sounds simple and routine. But in practice, American drivers are failing at these tasks, and the situation is only getting worse.
If You’re Distracted and You Know It, You’ve Got Company
The Travelers Risk Index is a survey done annually about the risks that concern Americans. In the 2023 version of the survey, 70% of people reported that distracted driving is a problem on the rise. More than a third of drivers admit to having narrowly avoided a crash while driving distracted. Drivers know they’re doing it. They know it’s dangerous. They do it anyway.
An Enormous Toll
In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that distracted driving had a larger economic impact than drunk-driving and speeding combined. The estimated cost of distracted driving to the American people 4 years ago was $98 billion.
But economic costs may hide the real tragedy. In 2020, distracted driving caused an estimated 3,142 fatalities. That number was likely much higher, as pinpointing distraction is much harder than identifying a drunk driver. People may be reluctant to admit they were distracted after causing a fatal crash. Deceased drivers are unable to admit that their deaths were the result of not paying attention to the road.
Smartphones Are a Big Part of the Problem
Distracted driving is a problem much older than the smartphone. People were fiddling with radio dials, eating, smoking or just gazing at the passing scenery for decades before cellphones became a thing. That said, the problem of distracted driving sharply increased with the popularity of mobile phones.
Early laws targeting texting and driving seem almost quaint now that drivers can scroll through TikTok videos, compose a work email, and peruse their dating options in a matter of moments. Texting is still a problem, but it’s a far less addicting behavior than many of the other things available at arm’s reach now that smartphones are everywhere.
A Socially Acceptable Problem
When it comes to fighting distracted driving, some of the same tools that reduced drunk driving may be effective. Drinking and driving was once a socially acceptable activity that passed relatively unnoticed unless it was extreme. Public awareness campaigns encouraged people to speak up, or even step in, to put a stop to the dangerous behavior.
If you are a passenger in a car, do you say something to a driver who pulls out a cellphone while driving? It’s a difficult position, particularly since so many of us engage in that same behavior when we drive. Still, it’s vital to spread the message that distracted driving is unacceptable. When children see their parents drive with one hand and use the other to operate their phones, what are they likely to do when they get their licenses?
If a Distracted Driver Injures You, Call an Attorney
At Ted B. Lyon & Associates, we help car accident injury victims get full and fair compensation. Our Dallas attorneys know how to fight for you.