PKSD Newsletter: Distracted Driving Deaths Increase Despite Pandemic

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on April 12, 2021 in Personal Injury
Updated on April 24, 2024

female driver talking on phone Despite the pandemic in 2020 and less cars being on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that traffic deaths involving distracted driving have increased.

The statistics for 2019 were already grim, with nearly 9 percent of all traffic fatalities involving some form of distracted driving behavior. However, preliminary statistics now show that these numbers are likely to be even higher for 2020.

Distracted Driving Is Not Just Texting

Most people equate distracted driving behavior with texting. Although Zendrive reported nearly 57 percent of all collisions in 2020 involved phone use prior to impact, it is not the only way people get distracted behind the wheel. There are many other forms of behavior that prevent people from focusing on the road and their own driving, such as:

  • Taking photos or videos
  • Looking at passengers in the back seat
  • Grooming
  • Adjusting music, GPS or other car technology
  • Using a cellphone to talk, text or email
  • Daydreaming instead of focusing on the road
  • Arguing – on the phone or with a passenger
  • Trying to read a map
  • Dealing with injured, crying or misbehaving children

The Centers for Disease Control identifies these three major types of distracted driving:

Visual Distraction

A visual distraction is any type of behavior or activity that causes you to take your eyes off the road – even briefly.

On average, it takes about five seconds to check a text message. During that five seconds of not looking at the road while driving at 55 mph, you have traveled 360 feet – the full length of a football field.

People who look down at their cellphones while driving are more likely to cause serious or fatal accidents due to:

  • Drifting into oncoming traffic
  • Slamming into a vehicle in front of them
  • Striking a pedestrian in the road
  • Failing to stop at an intersection
  • Running into the rear end of a motorcyclist
  • And more

Manual Distraction

Manual distraction happens when a driver takes one or more hands off the wheel to do something – such as eating or drinking. Sometimes a parent may try to comfort a child in the back seat. This type of behavior is especially dangerous because most of the time, the driver is also not looking at the road.

Cognitive Distraction

Cognitive distraction is getting involved in anything that takes your mind and focus off driving. For example, if you are arguing on your cellphone – even hands-free – your mind is focused there, not on your driving. It is very easy in that scenario to miss a motorcyclist trying to merge into your lane or a driver who suddenly brakes to avoid hitting an unexpected object in the road.

Think about a time when you missed an exit. Typically, people will admit it was because they were not paying attention. Unfortunately, most people think they are in control – until they are not.

Lead the Way to Safer Driving

This month’s PKSD Newsletter discusses more about distracted driving and how we can all help to reduce the number of traffic deaths from this reckless driving behavior. Understanding the dangers is a good start, but leading by example helps to put knowledge into action. For example, if parents are diligent to put their cellphones aside when driving, it is more likely that their teens will too. Statistically, children and teens copy what they see their parents doing, rather than what they are told to do.

In the same way, teens can become influencers for their friends and peers by turning off their own cellphone when driving and encouraging friends to do the same.

Read more about what our communities can do to decrease the number of traffic deaths due to distracted driving. Consider becoming an active participant to help reduce the number of distracted driving traffic deaths.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer for Legal Help Today

Despite our best efforts, accidents happen. If you or a loved one are injured due to the distracted driving behavior of another motorist, our Milwaukee-based personal injury lawyers are prepared to help.

PKSD has representatives available to schedule your free legal consultation 24/7. We have decades of experience fighting for the injured in Wisconsin, recovering millions in compensation on behalf of our clients.

Contact our firm today to learn more about how we may be able to help you recover the compensation you need for your injuries and other losses. Since we take cases on contingency, there are no upfront costs if we represent you. We do not collect payment for our services unless we get compensation for you.

Call for your free case review. 414-333-3333

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