Driving is a complex process, engaging almost all of your senses. Controlling and navigating a multi-ton machine, whether it’s a standard sedan or long-haul 18-wheeler, requires a lot of concentration. Yet every day, drivers, pedestrians, and others are at risk of injury in a collision with a distracted driver.
Driver distraction is a big problem in Texas; according to Fox 29 news, “the Texas Department of Transportation reports more than 93,512 distracted driving crashes in the state last year, causing 2,934 serious injuries and 431 deaths.” That is why April is designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, “an annual effort to warn drivers about the dangers of failing to pay complete attention while behind the wheel.”
What constitutes distracted driving?
Anything that diverts your attention from driving can be a distraction, and distracted driving is doing, or engaging with, something else while you are behind the wheel. Cell phone use is the leading cause of distracted driving, but other examples include:
- Eating and drinking
- Tinkering with the radio, GPS, or infotainment unit
- Turning around to talk to your passengers
- Personal grooming
- “Rubbernecking” at accidents
- Letting your mind drift while you drive
Why is distracted driving so dangerous?
Driving requires total control of a complex piece of machinery that is traveling faster than nature intended for us to move. Distracted driving not only reduces our reaction time; it reduces the amount of space we have to physically stop our vehicles (or move them out of the way of harm).
On average, it takes about 1.5 seconds to both perceive that stopped car AND hit the brakes in your own vehicle.
What kinds of injuries result from distracted driving accidents?
Distracted driving-related injuries can be catastrophic, especially when the collision is between a stopped vehicle and a moving vehicle. Depending on the speed and direction of the distracted driver, you could sustain:
- Traumatic brain injuries caused by penetrating objects or from hitting your head
- Facial trauma from the impact of the airbag, such as broken bones or eye damage
- Spinal trauma, including broken vertebrae, ruptured discs, or even paralysis
- Internal organ damage like punctured lungs
- Compound fractures of the sternum, collarbone, and ribs
- Burn injuries (friction or thermal)
- Increased risk of infection from open wounds
- Life-threatening blood loss
In the worst case scenario, you or a loved one could be fatally injured by a distracted driver.
What can you do to reduce the risk of a distracted driving accident?
To reduce your chances of being in – or causing – a distracted driving accident, you can take the following steps:
- Prepare for your trip before you put the car in drive. Set up your GPS, set your radio dials, and make sure you have whatever you need (a jacket, your sunglasses, etc.) before you go.
- Put your phone away. Put your phone in your glove box or center console or turn it off. If you are using it as a GPS unit, turn the “do not disturb” function on, and set the audio controls so you can hear the directions.
- Pull over if you need to do something other than drive. If you must make or take a call, or if you want to have a snack, pull over to a safe space, like a rest stop or a parking lot. Do what you need to do, and then proceed back to the road. If you must pull over on a shoulder, put your four-ways on; it will make you more visible.
- Model good behavior. Children copy their parents’ behaviors. When you’re driving with your children in the car, make sure to engage in safe driving behaviors. Not only will it become routine for you, but it will show them how they should treat their vehicles when they’re old enough to drive.
At Slack Davis Sanger, our Texas car accident lawyers represent drivers, passengers, and pedestrians killed or seriously injured in distracted driving collisions. If someone else’s negligence caused you harm, we have the skills, experience, and resources you want on your side.
The firm handles cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and deaths. Our work spans three decades of handling airplane and helicopter crashes, truck and car accidents, oilfield and construction accidents, and other devastating accidents. We try lawsuits throughout the country in both federal and state courts and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. To date, we have handled or tried cases in 47 states, read more about our attorneys and firm.