Distracted driving is the new drunk driving: 3,166 deaths and countless close calls

Report says most crashes were related to cellphone use

Joanne Higgins with her memorial Christmas tree in honor of 254 victims of distracted and drunk driving at her home in Marina on Wednesday, December 19, 2018. Higgins started the memorial after her godson/nephew Tyler Smedley died three years ago and pays tribute to victims of distracted driving from all over the world. (Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald)

DWD is the new DUI.

More than 3,000 died in 2017 in accidents that involved distracted driver. And while that pales by comparison with the more than 10,000 people who die each year in alcohol-related crashes, driving while distracted in today’s cellphone era is, to put a certain spin on it, a sobering reality.

The Washington Post is reporting that every day in the United States, about nine people are killed in motor vehicle accidents blamed on distracted drivers. In the most recent available data, 3,166 deaths were counted in 2017, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Looked at another way, 9 percent of fatal crashes involved a distracted driver who was focused on something other than driving – most often talking or texting on a cellphone (accounting for 14 percent of all distracted-driver fatalities in 2017), but sometimes eating, talking to passengers, fiddling with the radio or adjusting fan and temperature controls,” according to the report.

The victims include “599 pedestrians, bicyclists or others not in the vehicle with the distracted driver. According to NHTSA’s data, people in their 20s represent the largest group of drivers in fatal crashes (23 percent), and even larger percentages of distracted drivers in fatal crashes (27 percent) and drivers distracted by cellphone use (37 percent).”

And as with DUI-related deaths, none of this should come as a surprise to any of you who have driven farther than your driveway in the past five years. The dreaded distracted driver is waiting for you at every turn. Look out your window in any direction and you’ll see them, face down, at least one hand off the wheel and looking down at the lap, steady-eyed and focused, not on driving but on spelling the words in that text correctly or choosing just the right emoji for that someone special waiting on the other end of the message.

“Looking at cellphone-related distractions, new survey data on parents’ driving habits, published in JAMA Pediatrics, show that most parents had read texts (68 percent) or written texts (54 percent) while driving in the past month,” the report says. “More millennials (born from 1981 to 1996, and averaging age 33 at the time of the survey) than older parents (44 years, on average) said they had read texts (42 percent vs. 28 percent) or written texts (20 percent vs. 14 percent).”

Anyone injured in a car accident caused by the fault of another driver may have a legal right to seek compensation from that at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is a good idea to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney review the specifics of the accident and explain your legal options. Call Northland Injury Law at (816)-400-4878 to speak to a Missouri automobile accident lawyer today for help in recovering the compensation you need. An experienced personal injury attorney can ease some of the burden by engaging in fact-finding, gathering the necessary documentation, and crafting concise and thorough demands for settlement of your claim.

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