Distracted Driving Responsible for Increasing Numbers of Car Accidents Nationwide
In an age in which most people carry around smart phones and mobile devices everywhere they go, law enforcement officers and public officials have struggled to crack down on an ever-increasing problem on roads and highways: drivers who are distracted behind the wheel.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people are killed and another 431,000 injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Agency studies also indicate that about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving at any given time during daylight hours in the United States. More than 80 percent of drivers owned smart phones in 2014—a number that has likely increased over the past three years.
Interesting Demographic Trends
As one might expect, distracted driving is often cited as a particular problem amongst younger drivers. About 10 percent of all motorists ages 15 to 19 involved in fatal accidents were distracted at the time.
On the other hand, a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that adults use mobile devices while driving even more often than teenagers. The foundation’s report indicates that people between the ages of 25 and 39 were most likely to admit to using a phone while driving, while those over 60 were the least likely to do so.
Regardless, distracted driving is an incredibly dangerous activity that takes motorists’ eyes off the road, often leaving them unable to avoid car accidents. For example, it takes an average of about five seconds to respond to a text message—enough time to travel the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour.
State Distracted Driving Laws
In response to this emerging issue, the state of North Carolina has banned texting while driving for all motorists, while individuals under the age of 18 may not use a cell phone in any way—including with a hands-free device—while operating a motor vehicle. Bus drivers are also not allowed to use a cell phone or mobile device, except for when calling for emergency assistance. In South Carolina, there is a texting while driving ban for drivers of all ages.
Despite the efforts of public officials in the Carolinas and across the country, traffic deaths are on the rise. A recent report from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety found that a lack of adequate driving safety laws could be a key factor in this trend. The group ranks North Carolina in the middle of the pack when it comes to distracted driving, seat belt and other safety laws.
The organization’s study also indicates that there’s an enormous economic cost to rising car accident rates. Last year, these crashes came with a total estimated cost of about $240 billion nationwide.
The numbers don’t lie—texting while driving and engaging in other distractions while behind the wheel is a negligent activity that endangers everyone on our roads and highways. For further guidance on how you can seek compensation after a car accident in North Carolina or South Carolina, speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Wallace Childers PLLC.