In 2015 alone, close to 3,500 people were killed and 400,000 injured in car accidents involving distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, every year, the nation experiences 1.6 million accidents reportedly caused by texting and driving–that’s one out of every four. The Council cites texting, calling, and general use of mobile phones as major contributors to these deadly distractions.
According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Safety, 1,223 people were killed in auto accidents here in Georgia in 2011 alone.
Yet, a new study conducted by Progressive Insurance demonstrates that approximately one out of three drivers feels confident in their ability to text and drive at the same time, even though most drivers believe that distracted driving is the biggest contributor to car accidents in general, and 90 percent of the population believes it should be illegal.
The study separated confidence by age groups and gender, whereby 60 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 indicated that they felt confident texting and driving at the same time, while less than six percent of those age 55 and older felt confident. Perhaps it comes as no surprise, therefore, that most of those reported as engaging in distracted driving at the time of a fatal crash were teens. In addition, twice as many men as women indicated that they were very confident texting and driving at the same time.
Unfortunately, hands-free and related technology doesn’t necessarily remove the distraction: According to the Council, a driver on a hands-free phone call will look, but fail to see an estimated 50 percent of the environment around them; and this is just a conversation; videos and texting are, arguably, even bigger problems.
Types of Distractions
Distractions are technically broken down into three categories: visual, cognitive, and manual. An example of a visual distraction might include looking at someone sitting behind you, texting, etc. A cognitive distraction refers to your mind being somewhere else, such as in a conversation with a passenger or in speaking on your mobile phone. A manual distraction involves the driver taking their hands off of the steering wheel, to eat or smoke, for example.
While the end result—a car accident—may be the same, when it comes to liability, different types of distractions are going to have different consequences. For example, a driver momentarily taking their eyes off the road to deal with a child emergency is presumably going to be treated differently by a jury than someone who chooses to engage in texting while driving.
Is Artificial Intelligence the Answer?
Some have placed their faith in artificial intelligence to ultimately solve the problem of distracted driving, as laws have proven difficult to enforce and ultimately slow to produce change.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed algorithms that use cameras to detect when drivers are distracted and/or using their phone, and hope to incorporate this software into cars; even enabling the car to compensate for whatever activity is distracting you if you refuse to put down your phone.
While we are not yet at the point of having completely autonomous vehicles on the road for each and every driver, researchers are still hoping that this software could effectively take over—even if just for a short period of time—to tell us to put down the phone, pay attention to the road, and avoid a crash. Reportedly, they could even identify when a driver is beginning to nod off.
As of now, the only technology that has proven to be enforceable, comprehensive, and capable of addressing all potentially distracting devices is the network-based mobile policy enforcement system, which is sometimes deployed to commercial drivers and blocks them entirely from using their mobile phones to send messages or make calls.
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, there are steps you should take to ensure that you are protected throughout the process. Some of those steps include:
- Ensuring that you document everything, including taking down descriptions and taking pictures of the accident, as well as speaking with witnesses present;
- If you visit a doctor, make sure you report any and all injuries;
- Speak with an experienced auto accident attorney before you negotiate or even speak with the insurance company; and
- Discuss whether or not it would be wise to file a lawsuit in order to recover damages associated with the accident.
Remember that more Americans are involved in fatal car accidents over holiday weekends, in addition to thousands who will suffer from various non-fatal injuries due to these accidents. One of the contributing factors is the consumption of alcohol associated with family get-togethers and celebrations. There also tend to be more cars on the road in general over holiday weekends. Being prepared and knowing your rights are important for ensuring that you remain protected before, during, and after stressful auto accidents.
Keep in mind that drivers can not only face civil suits for driving negligently, but criminal charges as well, such as negligent homicide.
Car Accident Attorneys Serving Kennesaw, Marietta, and Surrounding Areas
When another driver’s negligence causes a car accident, the consequences can be severe for the victims. From high medical expenses to pain and suffering, lost wages and emotional distress, there is nothing easy about recovering physically and psychologically after a crash.
If this has happened to you, it is essential to work with an experienced professional auto accident attorney. Ask one of our experienced auto accident attorneys in Georgia about the best course of action based on your accident by contacting our office today.