How often are you doubling your risk for being involved in a car accident? Every time you look at your phone while driving, you’re putting yourself at a much greater risk of crashing. According to recent research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, distraction is becoming an even more serious problem on our roads.
IIHS’s report has a few unsettling findings, but the biggest takeaway is that drivers were observed manipulating their cellphones 57 percent more in 2018 than they were in 2014. It seems that, despite the countless warnings by states and safety advocates, drivers just can’t seem to break their addiction to smartphones when behind the wheel.
How did IIHS determine the prevalence of smartphone usage among drivers? Simple. They put researchers next to roads and let them watch what people were doing. Their findings showed that about one quarter of drivers weren’t focusing on the task of driving. That’s not exactly shocking for those of us who pay attention to the people we’re sharing the road with.
A Bad Habit That Deserves Our Attention
Maybe you’re one of the drivers who occasionally sneaks a peak at your phone when you think it’s safe, but many studies tell us why we shouldn’t give into temptation. Experienced drivers double their chances of being involved in a crash when dialing on their phones. For teens, distraction is an even greater risk; their risk of a crash (or a near miss) increases eight-fold when dialing a number on a cell phone.
Estimates about how much more likely you are to crash when distracted and how many people are killed or injured due to distraction vary greatly, but even the most conservative figures warrant serious concern by drivers. IIHS estimates that 800 people die every year because of distracted drivers, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts the total at well over 3,000. One study even suggested that more than half of all crashes involve some form of distraction.
Are you twice or eight times more likely to crash while using your smartphone behind the wheel? Do hundreds or thousands of people die because of distracted drivers?
The answers depend on what researcher’s conclusions you are most likely to believe, but all the studies are clear: If you pick up your phone while driving, the chances of something bad happening go way up.
You’re Convinced – What Should You Do?
The best way to break your phone habit is to put it out of reach. Put your phone in your back seat or turn it off. Restricting your access to your phone ensures you won’t use it, and it’s clearly the only way some drivers will be able to focus.
It’s equally important that we stress distraction-free driving to our young drivers. If you have a teen driver, lead by example. Teach your teen that there’s no good reason to use your phone in any capacity behind the wheel. If phone use is a must, pull over to the side of the road.
If You’ve Been Hurt by a Distracted Driver
While we can do our best to be free of distraction, we have no control over our fellow motorists. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, your best option is to make sure you don’t bear the costs for their careless driving.
A negligent driver’s insurance company should give you the compensation you deserve. Unfortunately, it often takes an effort to get payment that truly reflects your needs. At the Evans Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping injured people get the payment they deserve.
If you’ve been in a crash caused by a distracted driver in Austin, contact Chip Evans to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.