Distracted Driving Accidents
The 2019 NHTSA report found that 3142 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in the United States that year. Additionally, the Texas Department of Transportation reported 394 deaths in 95,572 distracted driving crashes on Texas roadways. From cell phones to simply not paying attention, it only takes a split second of being distracted for an accident to occur. If you have been the victim of a distracted driving accident, call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for a free consultation with our attorneys.
Types of Distracted Driving
With the ever-increasing use and prevalence of cell phones, talking and texting while driving has become a hot issue across the United States. Some people have even been charged with negligent homicide for using a cell phone and causing a crash. But there are many other forms of distracted driving that constitute negligence too. These include doing other activities unrelated to driving while operating a vehicle such as:
- Sending, receiving, watching, or reading any form of communication via a mobile electronic device.
- Changing the radio station.
- Putting on make-up.
- Combing hair.
- Tending to children in the back seat.
- Talking to passengers.
- Any other activity that takes your eyes off the road.
Six Out of Ten Teen Crashes Involve Driver Distraction
The AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety (AAA-FTS) has published a very sobering report this week – teen drivers are even more distracted behind the wheel than previously thought.
The AAA-FTS analyzed in-vehicle event recorders in 1,691 moderate-to-severe vehicle accidents between August of 2007 and July of 2013 involving drivers ages 16-19.
The study found that in 58% of accidents the teenage drivers were involved in “some form of non-driving-related behavior” in the 6 seconds leading up to the accident. Talking on a cell phone was one form of non-driving-related behavior.
According to the AAA-FTS, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had previously estimated that distracted teen driving accounted for only 14% of crashes involving teens. That is a 44% variation from what the Foundation observed. Peter Kissinger, the AAA-FTS president, notes that “[t]he in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”
This is terrifying news considering car accidents are the leading killer of teens. Over 3,000 teens die a year in car accidents and crashes and cost our country about $30 billion per year – $3 billion of that annual cost is in Texas alone. Distractions noted include:
- 15% – interacting with one or more passengers
- 12% – using a cell phone
- 10% – looking at something in the car
- 9% – looking at something outside the car
- 8%- singing or dancing to music
- 6% – personal grooming
- 6% – reaching for an object
The report concluded that when it came to engaging in distracted driving there was no difference between male and female teen drivers. However, female drivers were more likely to participate in a distraction such as grooming or singing while driving.
Cell Phones are Particularly Distracting
The study found that cell phone use was particularly distracting and dangerous for a teenage driver. Drivers using or looking at cell phones “looked away from the forward roadway excessively” and “spent an average of 4.1 seconds out of a final 6 seconds before the crash looking away.” Alarmingly, teen drivers “exhibited no reaction at all before impact in over half of rear-end crashing involving cell phone use.”
Texas Cell Phone Laws
Texas has enacted a statewide law that prohibits the following:
- Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any type of electronic device behind the wheel.
- Drivers over the age of 18 with learner’s permits are prohibited from using handheld cell phones during the first six months of driving.
- All drivers are prohibited from texting and using handheld communication devices when in school zones.
- School bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones when driving if children are present.
Thus, talking on a cell phone is not prohibited for adult drivers with over 6 months of driving experience despite the risk of distraction.
Is Distracted Driving Negligence?
Yes. Distracted driving is negligence on the part of the driver. Every driver has a legal duty to maintain a proper lookout while driving. Failure to maintain a proper lookout is negligence.
If you have been the victim of a distracted driving car accident, don’t become just another statistic. Talk to our distracted driving attorneys today: (713) 932-0777.