American drivers are more distracted than ever before, and distracted driving has contributed to the most significant two-year rise in deadly car accidents in more than 50 years. Over 40 percent of drivers admit to car accidents or near misses due to distracted driving.
Distracted Driving and Rising Fatalities
One primary cause of collisions is lack of attention while behind the wheel of a car. Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road is considered distracted driving. Approximately 23 percent of drivers admit to using some type of technology that diverts their attention while driving. Common driving distractions include:
- Talking, texting or emailing on a cell phone
- Checking social media posts on a cell phone
- Checking driving directions on a GPS system
- Driving while drowsy or impaired
- Looking for something in the car
- Personal grooming
Studies show that drivers who take their eyes off the road for just 4.6 seconds are at significant risk of injury. Looking away for 4.6 seconds while traveling at 55 mph is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field with closed eyes. Studies also show that dialing or texting on a cell phone increases the risk of a vehicle crash by five times.
Although new technology like automatic braking systems, lane departure warnings, and backup cameras are installed in many new cars, serious vehicle collisions are increasing. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 40,200 people died in car crashes on U.S. roadways in 2016. This number marks the most significant increase in fatalities in more than 50 years.
Distracted drivers who spend a lot of time on the road often find themselves in dangerous situations. Even drivers who pay close attention to the road face higher risks of injury and death due to other drivers who are distracted. Pedestrians also face significant risks of serious injury and death if hit by a distracted driver. A Chicago auto accident attorney sees high numbers of pedestrian injuries caused by inattentive drivers in busy commercial areas.
According to the National Safety Council, 2016 roadway deaths rose by six percent from 2015. In Illinois, car crashes caused 1,078 fatalities in 2016, compared to 910 fatalities in 2014. Distracted driving continues to be a major safety concern across the country.