Driving Distracted -- Is It Worth the Risk?

March 16, 2012  

With more and more portable technology, Americans are prone to bringing their portable devices along with them when they drive. We are all well-aware that use of these devices can lead to distracted driving, which takes our attention away from the road. This in turn can endanger us, our passengers and pedestrians. As California accident and injury lawyers, we want our readers to fully understand the serious dangers that this activity poses, and urge drivers to stop these dangerous practices.

The most common forms of distracted driving are texting, cell phone use, eating or drinking, grooming such as make-up application, watching videos, adjusting radios or other devices, and the like. According the United States Department of Transportation, text messaging is the most alarming of all distractions because it "requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver." Education on the dangers of this activity is the best protection against serious accident or injury.

Given the fact that this dangerous activity is something that every driver can avoid, it is really important that the public continue to be aware of just how unsafe this activity can be for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Here are some sobering statistics on the dangers of distracted driving. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and nearly 450,000 were injured. Over 15 percent of fatal crashes and 20 percent of injury crashes in that same year are reported to have involved distracted driving. The number of text messages sent or received in just the United States is up nearly 50 percent in the past two years.

Teen drivers are the most vulnerable of all to driving distracted and over 15 percent of fatal crashes in 2009 were related to distracted driving. A very large percentage of teens have reported that they have been passengers in cars in which the driver was engaged in dangerous activity with the use of a cell phone.

In general, those drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into a serious injury crash that can end up harming themselves. Just text messaging alone raises the severity of a crash -- and the activity takes the drivers eyes away from the road for an average of over 4.5 seconds. Shockingly, this is "the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind."

Unfortunately, the use of a headset cell phone or Bluetooth does not actually result in much greater safety than hand-held cell phone use. Research at Carnegie Mellon University has revealed that there is a nearly 40 percent reduction in the brain activity associated with the task of driving when cell phones are in use. In short, taking our attention away from driving is quite simply, life-threatening.

The San Francisco consumer protection and injury law firm of Hersh & Hersh has worked for the safety and well-being of consumers for over four decades. If you have been injured in a bus, car, or other motor vehicle accident, contact our law firm for a free consultation with one of our lawyers.