We all know the dangers of distracted driving, but knowing the dangers doesn’t always translate into not doing it. When it comes to teen drivers, distracted driving is even more dangerous, with teens 4 times more likely to get into an accident as a result of distracted driving.
Educating drivers, both teens and adults alike, is one of the best ways to try to get drivers to think twice about distracted driving. Here are 5 statistics that hopefully will get you to ditch the distractions and focus on the road.
1. Distracted Driving Isn’t Just From Phones
Although cell phones, and texting, tend to get the brunt of the blame when it comes to distracted driving accidents, they’re not the only culprits.
There are four different types of distractions: manual, visual, cognitive, and auditory.
Manual distractions take your hands away from the wheel. Reaching for things, adjusting the radio, adjusting the heat or other things in the car, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, shaving your bikini area (yes, this happened) are all considered manual distractions. This category includes anything that takes one or both hands away from the wheel.
Visual distractions take your eyes away from the road. Many manual distractions are also visual distractions.
Cognitive distractions occur when your mind wanders away from driving. These ones are harder to control, but cell phones are certainly a culprit. If your focus is on a text conversation or email, your mind is there and not on what is happening around you on the road.
Auditory distractions are ones that involve hearing things that are not involved with driving. This could include conversations with passengers or speaking with someone on a cell phone. Even if it is “hands-free” it can still be an auditory distraction.
Cell phones actually count as manual, visual, cognitive, and auditory distractions, making them one of the most deadly distractions.
2. Distracted Driving Resulting in Death Could Result in Prison or Jail Time
In New Jersey, a woman who was responding to a text and rear-ended a car that then fatally hit a pedestrian was convicted of second-vehicular homicide. When she is sentenced in January 2020, she faces between 5 and 10 years in prison, and by law, will have to serve at least 85% of her sentence before she can be considered for parole.
Most states don’t have specific penalties associated with causing a fatality if you are driving distracted, but 5 of them do (Alaska, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Utah).
In Maryland, for example, “Jake’s Law” makes the penalty for causing serious injury or death while talking on a handheld cell phone or texting up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
3. Most States Have Laws Against Texting and Driving
While only 5 states have specific penalties for causing death while driving distracted, 48 states ban text messaging for all drivers.
How it is penalized varies from state to state and some states consider it a primary offense (one that a police officer can pull you over for) while others consider it a secondary offense (one where you can only be penalized for it if you are pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding).
Penalties range from warnings, fines, and points on your license. In Utah, you can be fined as much as $750 for your first offense and get 50 points on your license. If you get 200 points in three years, your license can be suspended.
In Wisconsin, a fine for texting and driving could be up to $400 and come with four points and your license can be suspended once you have 12 points. Many states also have stricter penalties for using a cell phone in school zones.
4. Interacting With Passengers Is More Dangerous Than Using a Phone
While 12% of accidents are caused by distracted driving due to cell phone use, more than 50% are caused by conversations with passengers. Passengers, whether children or adults, are often a constant in our vehicles.
While you can put away cell phones or program them to become disabled while you’re driving, you can’t exactly do that with your passengers.
The ability to become distracted by passengers is one of the primary reasons new drivers in many states aren’t permitted to have passengers with them other than family members.
Having just one passenger increases the risk that a teen is in an accident and this risk increases with every subsequent passenger in the vehicle with them.
5. Driving a Vehicle While Texting is More Dangerous Than Driving Under the Influence
While it might not surprise you knowing what you know now, some people may be surprised to find out that your reaction and stop time is much longer with you are texting than when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Research has found that it takes four times as long to brake when you are reading an email or text than if you were under the influence.
Will These Stats Make You Think Twice About Distracted Driving?
Hopefully, this information will cause you to think twice about distracted driving. Not only can it have deadly consequences, but it can also result in significant fines, points on your license, and potentially a suspended license.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact us for a free consultation. We can help ensure you get the fair compensation that you are entitled to as a result of your accident.