The consequences of texting while driving have received a lot of recent news coverage. Texting is just the latest in a long list of distracted driving activities that can lead to car crashes involving property damage and personal injury.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 20 percent of auto crashes involving injuries are a result of distracted driving. Use of a cell phone - both for texting and talking - is by far the most common form of distracted driving.
But other types of distracted driving have been around for as long as cars have been on the road. The U.S. government lists these additional categories:
- Grooming and personal hygiene
- Fiddling with the radio, CD player or MP3 device
- Eating and drinking
- Talking with passengers
- Reading (including looking at a map or directions)
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
The government also lists three main types of distracted driving: visual, where the driver takes his eyes off the road; manual, where the driver takes her hands off the steering wheel; and cognitive, where the driver's mind wanders from the task of driving. Perhaps this explains a study by the University of Utah that found that using a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, delays a driver's reaction to road hazards as much as alcohol intoxication at the .08 legal limit.
In addition, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers using handheld devices for talking, texting or game playing are four times more likely to cause crashes resulting in injuries. The age group most likely to be involved in distracted driving crashes is drivers under 21. However, for crashes involving texting and cell phone use, the most common age of drivers is 30 to 39, according to the NHTSA. An Overland Park business and an automobile insurer are now offering parents the option of installing cameras in their teens' vehicles so that they can observe their teen drivers' behaviors and take corrective action when necessary. Offerings like this may become more widespread as more people are affected by the dangers of distracted driving.
If you have been injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver in Kansas City, you should speak to an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney for help with your claim.