In 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities in collisions involving distracted drivers and another 421,000 injuries attributed to a lack of driver focus. Each and every distracted driver is dangerous, whether that driver is on the phone, talking to a passenger or paying attention to a pet. In fact, even law enforcement officers can cause collisions while distracted, as recent reports indicate that officers cause hundreds of crashes in metro Denver.
Distracted driving statistics may not tell the whole story. Much of the focus on tracking distracting behavior is on cell phones and electronic devices, but these aren’t the only distractions. Even in cases where drivers cause a collision because they are focused on a phone or electronic device, the accident may be classified as a “careless driving” accident rather than a collision caused by driver distraction.
Understanding the true extent of distracted driving crashes is important to more effectively tackle this serious public health issue. Denver accident lawyers know that victims who are involved in collisions also need to understand their legal rights.
The Difficulty of Correctly Classifying Distracted Driving Collisions
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released detailed information intended to highlight how frequently people drive when they are distracted. The NHTSA indicates that 1.5 percent of drivers visually manipulated handheld devices while driving in 2012, up from 1.3 percent in 2011.
However, this number seems relatively low considering how many people have admitted to texting and driving. On one recent survey, for example, 18 percent of motorists said that they had texted while driving. The 2012 National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors also found that 10 percent of drivers said they sometimes text while driving and 14 percent said they read text messages or emails.
Almost half of all drivers answering the national survey also admitted to answering their cell phones behind the wheel, although the NHTSA said that driver hand-held cell phone use “remained unchanged at 5 percent in 2012.”
The disparity shows a lot of drivers are on the phone but not getting caught. Even after an accident, if a driver doesn’t admit to phone use, it can be hard to prove and police may indicate on crash reports that careless driving was the cause of the collision.
Outside of the problem of cell phones, there are a lot of other distracted driving behaviors that may not be recorded at all. Insurance Journal reported that 62 percent of fatal distracted driving collisions were caused by daydreaming drivers; while cell phone use caused 12 percent of collisions and eating or drinking caused two percent. The number of collisions caused by people eating and drinking may actually be higher as well, since 39 percent of drivers have admitted to eating food or beverages while driving. Again, this is difficult to accurately record, especially since eating or drinking behind the wheel isn’t illegal.
Without a full measure of the extent of the problems caused by distracted driving, it will be very difficult to find policy solutions that effectively target this dangerous behavior.
Contact Bell & Pollock at (877) 744-5900 or visit http://www.bellpollockinjury.com to schedule a consultation with an accident lawyer in Denver.