What Makes Smartphone Use So Distracting Behind the Wheel?

According to statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are around eight deaths a day caused by distracted drivers, and another 1,000+ people injured by them. The problem is so widespread, new laws have been drafted in a direct attempt to stop people from driving while distracted. But with the advent of the smartphone’s popularity, and no sign of it ever diminishing, the problem of distracted driving crashes are only getting worse as time goes on.

CDC studies revealed that close to 70% of drivers in the United States had used their smartphone regularly to complete a phone call while they were in the middle of driving. 31% admitted to reading, writing, or sending text messages behind the wheel often; the number is probably much higher as it is assumed survey participants would be prone to lie about their dangerous and illegal behavior. Other studies, including one conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC), have also determined that a hands-free device does nothing to reduce the distraction of using a smartphone while driving. If anything, it gives the driver a false sense of security, which could increase their chance of becoming dangerously distracted.

Three Types of Distraction

The CDC has stated that there are three distinct forms of distraction that can affect a driver. The first is visual, which is caused by something that removes the driver’s eyes from the road, mirrors, and blind spots. The second is manual, which is caused by anything that requires the driver to place their hands on anything that is not the steering wheel or gearshift. The third is cognitive, which means a mental distraction that pulls the driver’s thoughts away from the task of driving responsibly.

Examples of distractions:

  • Visual: Billboards, bright storefronts, pedestrians, smartphone screen, etc.
  • Manual: Eating food, applying makeup, picking up a cellphone, etc.
  • Cognitive: Speaking to a passenger, listening to talk radio, reading a text, etc.

Texting and driving is particularly dangerous and linked to so many car accidents – an estimated 20% at least – because it engages a driver in all three forms of distraction at once. Cognitive distractions are also worse than they seem, as research has indicated that a mental distraction persists for nearly 30 seconds. For example, if you were to think about a text message you just received, your mind would be focused on it instead of the road for 30 seconds, on average, after you put down the cellphone.

Distraction Can Prove Liability

If you are hurt in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you need to take steps to prove that they had been distracted. Full liability might be placed on a driver that was using his or her smartphone at the time of a collision. If studying evidence and crafting a convincing argument does not sound like something you want to do while you’re trying to rest and recuperate, contact The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor.

Our Hickory car accident attorneys have close to 100 years of total legal experience. We have managed to collect millions of dollars for our clients through successful case results. If you want to learn more about our services, feel free to review our candid client testimonials or email us to request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

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