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Driver Distraction a Common Factor in Fatal Crashes

Texting while driving concept. A male driver browsing the internet and social media while behind the wheel of a car.

Breaking down the risks and consequences of distracted driving

In today's fast-paced world, distractions are abundant, and it's crucial for drivers to stay focused on the road. While it's easy to get sidetracked by multiple responsibilities and tasks, motorists must prioritize safe driving practices to avoid serious car accidents. With distracted driving continuing to be a leading cause of fatal crashes, increasing awareness and educating motorists about the risks is more important than ever. Fortunately, April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a dedicated time to promote safe driving practices and encourage drivers to stay focused on the road.

Distracted driving is a nationwide problem

According to Forbes Advisor, every year, around 3,000 people lose their lives in accidents involving distracted driving. On average, that's 9 fatalities per day. While many people associate distracted driving with cell phone use, it's worth noting that other types of distractions can be just as dangerous. To provide a comprehensive overview of distractions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies them into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive:

  • Visual distractions. These are distractions that take your eyes off the road. Common examples include:
    • Looking at your phone
    • Checking your GPS
    • Checking yourself in the mirror or self-grooming
    • Looking at a billboard, accident, or something else going on outside of the vehicle (rubbernecking)
  • Manual distractions. These are distractions that take your hands off the wheel. Examples include:
    • Holding your phone to make a call or text
    • Eating or drinking
    • Adjusting music or climate control
    • Reaching for something in the glove box or back seat
  • Cognitive distractions. These are distractions that take your mind off the road and the task of driving, such as:
    • Daydreaming
    • Thinking about work, school, or personal problems
    • Worrying about upcoming events
    • Talking to passengers

Partaking in any of these distractions puts you, your passengers, and other road users at risk of getting into a crash. It's worth noting that texting and driving poses an exceptionally high risk and is widely regarded as the most unsafe type of distracted driving. When a driver uses a phone to send or receive a text message, they take their eyes off the road, their hands off the steering wheel, and their minds off the task of driving.

The visual distraction occurs when drivers look at their phone screens to read or type messages. This takes their eyes off the road and can prevent them from seeing important visual cues, such as traffic signals, road signs, or other vehicles. The manual distraction occurs when drivers use their hands to hold and operate the phone, which means they cannot have both hands on the wheel, reducing their ability to maintain control of the vehicle.

Moreover, texting while driving creates a cognitive distraction. When drivers focus on texting or any other type of phone activity, they divert their attention away from the task of driving. This causes a mental distraction that can impair their judgment, reaction time, and decision-making skills, leading to serious accidents.

Texas distracted driving statistics

Click 2 Houston notes that distracted driving deaths increased 17% in Texas in 2021 compared to 2020, with 431 fatalities and 2,934 serious injuries reported, according to TxDOT. In response, TxDOT launched its annual Talk. Text. Crash. campaign, urging Texans to stay focused on the road and put their phones down. Since September 1, 2017, it has been illegal to read, write, or send a text while driving in Texas, with violators facing a fine of up to $200. In addition, TxDOT offers several tips to prevent distracted driving, including giving driving full attention, pulling over to talk or text, putting phones away, and informing others of the no-texting policy while driving.

Oklahoma distracted driving statistics

According to a report by KFOR-TV, new data from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) about fatal crashes in the state from 2017 to 2021 shows that 250 motorists have died on Oklahoma highways, and nearly 8,000 were injured due to distracted driving. While fatal accidents slightly decreased from 51 in 2017 to 42 in 2021, distracted driving remains the primary cause of crashes. Drivers between the ages of 31 and 50, and those under 21, experienced the largest number of distracted driving fatalities, with each group experiencing 40 fatal accidents between 2017 and 2021. Distracted driving fatalities remain a leading cause of death on Oklahoma highways, along with unsafe speed, driving under the influence, driving left of center, inattention, and failure to stop. Additionally, ODOT reports that more men than women are dying in distracted driving-related crashes.

Hold distracted drivers accountable with help from an experienced car accident lawyer

Distracted driving is a serious issue that can result in catastrophic outcomes, from severe injuries to disabilities and even death. At Hoover Rogers Law, LLP, we recognize the devastating impact of distracted driving, and that's why we fight hard for crash victims in Texas and Oklahoma. Our law firm takes pride in working closely with our clients to obtain the best possible outcome for their cases. We firmly believe that distracted drivers must be held accountable for their reckless actions, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive the justice and financial compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, contact us today for a free injury case consultation. Our offices are in Wichita Falls, TX, and Lawton, OK.

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