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The deadly truth about distracted drivers

| Mar 19, 2021 | motor vehicle accidents

Multitasking is a valuable skill in many areas of life. It helps if you can handle more than one project at work, and even parents of small children manage to accomplish many things at once. However, most will admit that trying to do one important task while distracted by other less important tasks usually means the important task will not be done well. Nowhere is this more vividly illustrated than behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

Distracted driving continues to be a serious problem for drivers in nearly every age group despite more than a decade of increasingly severe laws and penalties intended to discourage the behavior. If you have recently suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident, you may be like many in South Carolina and across the country who feel especially frustrated to learn the cause of the accident was a distracted driver. 

What is most distracting? 

The most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that about 400,000 people suffered injuries in distracted driving accidents in a single year. Tragically, more than 2,800 lost their lives. Distractions fall under three categories: 

  • Cognitive distractions take a driver’s mind off the task of driving. 
  • Visual distractions are when the driver is looking at something else and not watching the road. 
  • Manual distractions are those that cause the driver to take his or her hands off the wheel. 

Eating and drinking, having conversations with other passengers, trying to get directions from a navigation system, and adjusting the climate controls or radio are some examples from each of these categories. However, the one item that often involves all three types of distraction is the cellphone. In fact, most of the recent distracted driving laws involve banning or limiting the use of cellphones behind the wheel. 

Who is most distracted? 

You share the road with many types of people, and any of them may be likely to have a cellphone in hand while operating a vehicle. However, studies say that the ones who most often use cellphones while driving are those between the ages of 20 and 29. In fact, about 25% of fatal distracted driving accidents involved a driver in that age range.  

Among other age groups, however, the numbers are relatively close. You may be surprised to learn that 5% of fatal distracted driving accidents involved drivers over the age of 70. New laws continue to toughen penalties, and awareness campaigns target certain populations. However, the real change must come from each individual driver deciding to be responsible behind the wheel 

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