Like many other people in New Jersey, you probably feel pretty attached to your smartphone. These small devices are much more than just phones, providing everything from GPS directions to internet access to video games. While undoubtedly entertaining — and maybe even a little addictive — you know how dangerous it is to use a phone while driving. Not everyone feels the same way about distracted driving.
The reality is that using a phone behind the wheel of a vehicle is dangerous. Fatalities are not uncommon in distracted driving accidents. Despite repeatedly demonstrated evidence, the number of drivers using smartphones is rising.
Drivers are texting, not talking
In 2014, researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety — IIHS — performed a roadside study in which they observed drivers’ behaviors. They found that 2.3% of observed drivers were physically manipulating a phone. Another 4.1% were talking on cell phones.
Researchers repeated the study in 2018. The number of drivers manipulating cell phones rose to 3.4%, while talking on phones fell to 3.7%. You may have also noticed this trend. Cell phone use caused at least 800 crash-related fatalities in 2017, although experts caution that the real number of deaths may be much higher since determining cell phone usage is difficult. With so many deaths linked to drivers using smartphones, you have probably seen your fair share of drivers staring at phones instead of the road.
Other forms of distraction
You always buckle up your seatbelt, drive the posted speed limit and adhere to the other rules of the road. Unfortunately, this does not protect you from other dangerous drivers. Distracted driving is actually not a new phenomenon and goes far beyond cell phone usage behind the wheel. Here are just a few examples of distracted driving behavior:
- Wearing earbuds or headphones
- Changing the radio station, volume or song on an Mp3 player or smartphone
- Using built-in touchscreen menus
- Eating or drinking
- Talking with passengers
This is far from a comprehensive list of distractions. In the same 2018 study from IIHS, researchers observed 23% of drivers engaged in at least one of 12 distracting activities. These behaviors were both in moving vehicles and at red lights. Because these were roadside observations, the real percentage of distracted drivers might be even higher.
You do not have to suffer alone
Distracted driving accidents can be quite severe. Since drivers are not paying attention to the road, they do not always have the opportunity to react or apply the brakes in a timely manner. If a distracted driver hit your vehicle, you already understand this all too well.
Getting the right medical treatment for a serious or traumatic injury is usually a time-consuming and costly process. Surgery or ongoing treatment or rehabilitation could compromise your ability to work, and with all those medical bills, you might feel like you are drowning physically, financially and emotionally. There is still hope after a distracted driving accident, though. If you choose to pursue a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your accident, you could potentially achieve just compensation for your damages.