Driving While Distracted (DWD)

In today’s world, it seems like everyone is constantly connected to some type of electronic device. This can be a major problem when it comes to driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. That’s 10 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year.

Traffic accidents are the most prevalent cause of death among persons between the ages of 3 and 33. Since the mid-1980s, DWI deaths have decreased dramatically due to MADD’s efforts to pass stricter laws and more vigorous enforcement. Unfortunately, distracted driving, as defined by the NHTSA – any activity that diverts attention while behind the wheel – has increased at an alarming rate. 3,142 lives were lost, and 400,000 people were injured due to distracted driving in 2020, according to the NHTSA. Pedestrians and cyclists are more vulnerable to being injured or killed by a distracted driver; non-occupants account for nearly 20% of Driving While Distracted fatalities.

The distracted driving epidemic has infected Texas, and it’s not only immune but also severely afflicted.

Cell Phone Usage & Texting While Driving

Cell phone usage and texting while driving (including e-mailing) are the most common causes of distracted driving. With everyone owning a cell phone, the problem has gotten much worse. According to a 2019 Pew Research poll, 99% of Americans between 18 and 49 and even 91 percent of those over 65 own a phone.

According to the NHSTA 2020 Driver Electronic Device Use White Paper, a survey conducted in 2020 revealed that 7.9% of drivers were utilizing some sort of phone, and 91 percent of Americans over the age of 65 did likewise, with the majority having smartphones. In a 2020 white paper, the National Safety Council (NSC) predicted that around 8% of all drivers are on their phones at any one time during daylight hours – with 1/3 using handheld devices and 2/3 using handsfree. It is said that at any one moment, 660,000 people are using their phones. Because 24 states have banned handheld usage, including California, New York and Illinois, the handsfree ratios are impacted by the ban.

Why Is It Dangerous to Use a Cell Phone While Driving?

Why is cell phone use and texting while driving so distracting? Interaction with a cell phone necessarily involves some or all of three dangerous types of driving distractions. There are three major distractions.

Visual Distraction

The driver’s eyes are off the road to type, dial, or check a message, contact, or number.

Manual Distraction

The driver is busy texting, calling, or answering a call with his or her hands off the wheel.

Cognitive Distraction

When conversing with the phone or a caller, the driver’s attention is off the act of driving.

When a driver takes his eyes off the road to text, send an email, read a book, or answer the phone, he loses situational awareness of the traffic and environment around him. When the driver’s attention returns to the roadway, his or her situational awareness is again compromised, similar to restarting a computer. During that time, the driver may be susceptible to inattentive blindness and hampered visual scanning, which can lead to him or her being unable to notice or react appropriately to other vehicles, pedestrians, or obstructions on the road. Furthermore, talking on a cell phone while driving, whether hands-free or hand-held, diverts attention away from the task of driving and causes drivers to have diminished scanning capacity and inattention blindness. Crashes involving cell phone use are often more severe because cell phone use delays a driver’s reaction time – their ability to brake or turn to reduce the severity of an impending crash.

Texting While Driving Statistics

In the United States, 2.2 trillion messages are sent every year. There is a general agreement among researchers, the government, and the public that texting while driving is extremely hazardous and should be prohibited globally. The result is straightforward and self-evident: texting combines all three types of hazardous distractions — visual, manual, and cognitive.

The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M conducted a real vehicle study in October 2011. Researchers discovered that reading or composing text while driving reduced reaction time by at least half. Texting drivers were also more likely to drive outside their lanes, swerve more frequently, and keep a steady speed. The fact that the tests were carried out on a closed course with significant driving restrictions due to safety concerns was of particular interest. The researchers found that, given what we know about the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on driving performance, it is frightening to think of how much worse our participants’ driving skills may have deteriorated if the driving circumstances were more typical.

In 48 states, it is illegal to text while driving. Handheld devices are prohibited in 24 states, although no state has banned hands-free usage. The federal government banned texting while driving a commercial vehicle in 2010 and prohibited officials from doing so. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended in December 2011 that states pass legislation prohibiting drivers from using cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. The NTSB’s call for a total ban on cell phone usage while driving resulted from years of public debate and research. It was hoped that the NTSB’s bold and forward-thinking approach would be a catalyst for broader legislative action, but those expectations were not realized.

Are You a Victim of Driving While Distracted in Texas?

Researchers have determined what motivates jurors in catastrophic personal injury claims for years. For many years, it was thought that anger, outrage, and compassion were the driving forces behind large judgments. Jurors are frequently motivated by their most basic instincts – the portion of the brain that values self-preservation and preserving the species by protecting the young and community. We understand this to be the case based on our knowledge and experience.

In most cell phone and texting accidents, negligence is assumed due to the event’s conditions – running a light, losing control, driving on the wrong side of the road, or getting rear-ended. Mobile phone use makes such negligence much more serious and significantly raises the case’s value.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a driver that was distracted, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers in League City, TX. We are here to help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone at (281) 645-5000 or complete our online form.