By now, we’re all familiar with the dangers of texting and driving. Car makers and smartphone app creators are making major strides to help drivers keep their hands on the steering wheel while sending texts and interacting with their cell phones on the road. Touch-screen dashboards and built-in Bluetooth devices help drivers interact hands-free.
Efforts like these make it easier for us to use the technology we love, but they also pose a question. Do hands-free devices and smartphone apps really eliminate the risks of causing a car accident due to being distracted? When a driver is concentrating on reading or dictating a text on their dashboard, aren’t they still distracted? Freeing the hands isn’t the answer to solving the dilemma on how to eliminate distracted driving altogether.
There’s also more to distracted driving than texting. Whenever a driver is distracted by a Facebook message notification or any type of ping on their smartphone, they’re potentially at risk to lose focus on the road in front of them. Even though car and app creators are creating more ways for drivers to use technology while behind the wheel, the number of accidents being caused by distractions hasn’t gone down.
Statistics confirm this fact. In 2016, almost 40,000 automotive highway deaths were recorded throughout the U.S. This is the highest fatality total in nearly a decade. It can be argued that more Americans are driving than ever, but as technology becomes better, shouldn’t less drivers cause deadly accidents?
According to a study released by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), 36% of the nearly 11 million car crashes that occur every year nationwide could be avoided if distractions were eliminated. This amounts to 4 million accidents that can potentially be prevented every year.
The above study also ranked the top 5 activities that lead to car accidents caused by distracted drivers:
- Operating the car radio – Our vehicles no longer have radios with 5 simple buttons and an on/off switch. Most cars have Bluetooth-enabled devices that hook up to our smartphones so we can easily access our playlists from anywhere. There’s one slight problem with having all our music a finger’s length away, however. We’re more distracted than ever by picking out that perfect song.
- Using a touch-screen menu – Any time a driver uses a touch-screen menu on their smartphone or on the car’s dash, they are increasing their chances of causing an accident. Touch-screen menus are easy to use, but they still take our focus away from the task of driving during the brief second it takes to glance through a few menu options.
- Texting while driving – Here’s the major culprit we all expected to be on this list. Whether a driver texts via touch-screen or using their actual cell phone, taking a couple of seconds to text a loved one about dinner plans can cause a deadly crash.
- Reaching for an object – This one may come as a surprise. More individuals cause accidents while reaching for objects while driving than texting. Any time you reach for your phone that slid off the seat or a bag that fell over, you’re taking your eyes off the road, the steering wheel, and every single one of your mirrors. This can spell disaster.
- Dialing a phone number – More accidents are caused by drivers who dial their cell phones—regardless of whether they use their vehicle’s touch-screen capabilities, the actual phone, or a hands-free system—than drivers who text. It may seem safe to call up a friend instead of text them, but the time it takes to pull up a contact and dial that number may have a cost.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident with a driver who was distracted from driving—whether they were texting or simply using a hands-free device—legal action may be an option. Seeking legal aid can help your family recover from an incident that shouldn’t have occurred. Get in touch with Urban & Taylor to learn more. Our Milwaukee car crash lawyers represent clients throughout Wisconsin and are ready to assist you.
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