By the end of today, more than nine people will lose their lives and another 1,153 will suffer injuries due to distracted drivers. This is according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest data on distracted driving in the United States. Distractions while driving take many forms – visual, manual, cognitive – and the most prevalent type of distraction encompasses all three.
Communication via mobile device, whether text, voice, or email, is the most common form of distraction for drivers in America. In fact, 69 percent of drivers in the U.S. ages 18-64 admitted to talking on their cell phone while driving, and another 31 percent said they read or sent a text or email while behind the wheel in the last 30 days. These statistics are staggering when considering there are 190 million licensed drivers in the United States.
Many believe that the need for instant communication and constant “connectivity” to social circles is causing an epidemic of distracted and “bad” drivers.
Our Society’s Need for Instant Gratification
The past few decades have seen an influx of new technologies, many of which focused on keeping us connected. These new technologies have caused a need for instant gratification, a need to ensure we are not missing out. The “high” we get from constant connection has been likened to gambling. “The hit when you get a good email is like the hit of winning money. It provides instant gratification,” says David Greenfield, the founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction.
The invention of smartphones and wireless internet connectivity perpetuated that need to constantly be connected. Many newer drivers grew up with these new portable technologies. As their communication methods followed them everywhere, so did the rampant use of them in everyday life – including driving.
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The Need to Be Constantly Connected–Especially While Driving–is a Risk to Everyone’s Safety
Today’s drivers are consistently distracted by their digital communications. When the notification sound rings on their device to indicate an incoming message, it is almost always answered without regard of where the recipient is at the time. Unfortunately, quite often the recipient is a driver sharing the road with others.
There is an overwhelming number of drivers on our roads that feel the need to know when someone has texted or emailed them, regardless of their duty to pay attention solely to driving. They cannot wait to communicate, which puts both the driver and other drivers at risk.
It has been said that mobile device communications while driving is this era’s version of DUI. There is a lot of truth to that statement – the National Safety Council estimates cell phones caused 1.2 million accidents in the U.S. in 2013. Compare that to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) that reported 1.2 million drivers were arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can start to see the parallels between the choice to drink and drive and the choice to answer communications while driving.
Distracted Driving Will Continue Until America Learns Communications Can Wait
The desire to remain connected to our social networks is becoming such a problem in our society that it is starting to be treated as an addiction. There have are now rehabilitation programs and facilities that help people “unplug” from the always-connected lifestyle.
Unfortunately, while these types of programs may help prevent some drivers from texting behind the wheel, it is only for extreme cases of connectivity obsession. The average casual mobile device user who answers communications behind the wheel is not likely to seek help with their unintentionally dangerous choice.
Distracted driving accidents can become complex claims when it is upon you to prove that the other driver was distracted by during the crash. Contact a car accident lawyer at Bressman Law to schedule a FREE consultation and learn how to prove fault in a distracted driving crash. Call today – 877-538-1116.