With the rapid increase in smartphone users in and across the US, distracted driving has become a concern in terms of traffic safety. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2018, 2841 individuals died in car accidents due to distracted driving. However, in the same year, approximately 276,000 people were injured because of distracted drivers, while distracted-affected property damage only collisions totaled to 659,000.
Due to carelessness and negligence of distracted drivers, others are at risk of suffering from severe personal injuries. Every day in the US, nearly nine people die and over a 1000 get injured in accidents that are reported to have a distracted driver. In 2018, accidents due to distracted driving cost the US around 40 billion dollars in damage.
What is Distracted Driving?
As the term suggests, this type of driving distracts the driver’s focus from the road with other activities. These activities can be anything that diverts your attention off the road. Different states across the US have different distracted driving laws. But if we talk about South Carolina in particular, it is one of the few states that don’t ban cell phone use or texting while driving.
However, the state of South Carolina has allowed the cities to enact bans, if needed. Thus, many municipalities have put local bans on distracted driving in effect. These include Camden, Walhalla, Celmson, Mount Pleasant, Columbia, Hilton Head Island, West Union and Beaufort.
It is strictly prohibited to drive while texting in Beaufort County for all drivers. The state prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from cell phone use including, hand-held or hands-free devices. First-time offenders shall face a $100 fine. Third-time offenders can face a $300 fine along with being arrested. These laws vary from cities and counties.
3 Types of Distractions While Driving
Distractions while driving can be classified into 3 different types. These are:
Visual distraction occurs when the driver takes their eyes off the road, even if it is for a couple of seconds; it can put the driver and others driving on the road at risk of a crash. Did you know that at 55mph speed if a driver takes their eyes off the road for reading or sending a message for about five seconds, this is as long as covering a football field?
Needless to say that a glance away from the road lasting more than 2 seconds, increases the risk of accident or near-collision by two times than that of normal driving.
Some examples of visual distractions include:
- Looking at a passenger
- Looking outside the window instead of looking ahead
- Looking at the entertainment center or a GPS device
Anything can prompt the driver to take one or both the hands off from the steering wheel. Some examples of manual distractions include:
- Eating and drinking while driving. These are manual distractions because the driver physically uses their hands to grab a drink or take a bite of their food instead of holding on to the steering wheel firmly.
- Smoking—although the number of smokers in the US has been on a decline for many years, there are still many people who smoke while driving. This activity falls under a manual distraction because the driver holds the cigarette in their hands for an extended period of time.
- Tending to a Child—This is yet another distraction that puts drivers and their loved ones at risk to accidents. Sometimes drivers get their hands busy in tending to a child such as feeding them while driving, putting their seatbelts or picking up their toys. It’s important to understand that no matter how bad of a tantrum a child throws in the car, the driver should not take their hands or eyes off the road because it can cause severe injuries to the driver and the child in case of a car collision.
- Searching through a wallet or purse—Most adults carry their personal items in their purse and wallets such as id cards, credit cards, mint, gum and makeup. And sometimes they use their hands to search through their bags for these items while driving. This act is extremely dangerous as the driver may lose control of the vehicle when their hands are busy searching through the wallet or purse.
Therefore, to avoid such manual distractions while driving it is advisable to switch off the cell phone, pull over to handle a crying child or eat or drink.
Cognitive Distractions, also known as mental distractions, are activities that distract the driver’s mind off the road and prevents them from safe driving. Though visual and manual distractions inherently involve an element of cognitive distraction, the activities that fall under this category in particular are more mentally distracting than others.
These distractions are dangerous because it may seem like the driver is focused on the road but the mind may be drifted off somewhere else. Thus, the driver in reality is not alert or attentive.
Let’s look at some examples to understand it better:
- Using a speech to text system to receive and send text and email messages is a high level of cognitive distraction
- Talking to another passenger in the car
- Listening to a podcast or audio book
- Having a conversation on your hands-free device
All these distractions pose a high risk of accidents, which can potentially result in severe injuries for other drivers. Injuries may include spinal damage, head injuries, neck and back injuries, whiplash, broken bones, and fractures.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a severe car accident because of a distracted driver, contact us today. At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C., our personal injury attorney can fight for you to recover full and fair compensation for injuries and losses incurred. We will help you through every step of the personal injury claim filing process to ensure that it goes smoothly and you were treated with justice.