“Distracted driving” can entail many different types of activities. According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), on the “Distracted Driving” page, the three main types of distractions are the following:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.2
As stated by the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (in the “Distracted Driving 2013” note) “…distraction is a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead.”
Distracted driving – crash statistics
Distracted driving accidents often cause serious, if not fatal, accident injuries. According to the CDC:
- In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,328 in 2012.1,4
- In 2013, 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, an almost 10% increase since 2011.1
- In 2013, nearly one in five crashes (18%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.1
Additionally, statistics from NHTSA (“Distracted Driving 2013“) states that based upon 2013 data, 10% of fatal crashes “were reported as distracted-affected crashes.”
As discussed in various sources, including the NHTSA note mentioned above, there are reasons to believe that the number of distracted-driving related crashes may be under-reported.
Frequency of distracted driving
A CDC Distracted Driving study in 2011 indicated that:
- 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed
- 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed
Texting while driving
While distractions can be caused by many factors, one of the most common types of distracted driving appears to be caused by cell phone usage – and in particular “texting.” Texting while driving is particularly hazardous, for a number of reasons. One reason is that texting while driving distractions are frequent and can be time-consuming. According to the CDC, texting is one distraction that takes the driver’s attention away from driving on a more frequent basis – and for longer periods – than other distractions.
Another reason that texting is hazardous is that it encompasses all “types” of distractions. An excerpt from the CDC page mentioned above regarding the hazards of texting:
…texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.3
Texting while driving at high vehicle speeds can be particularly risky. As stated on the CDC page mentioned above, “At 55 mph, the average text takes your eyes off the road long enough to cover a football field.”
Texting appears to a widespread activity among drivers. In the 2011 Distracted Driving study, the CDC found “…that about one-third of drivers in the United States reported that they had read or sent text messages or emails while driving.”
Additionally, the frequency of texting appears significant. As stated on the distraction.gov “Facts and Statistics” page, citing a statistic from (NHTSA):
The percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers.
Other types of driving distractions
Other types of distractions include:
- emailing while driving
- reading while driving
- operating dashboard technologies, including navigation systems
- operating car entertainment systems
- eating or other activities which cause the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel
- multitasking, i.e. trying to perform other tasks at the same time as driving
Some believe that even talking (and especially arguing) with other vehicle occupants can be enough of a distraction to possibly lead to an accident.
One serious Chicago area accident involving driver distraction occurred in August of 2011, in Rolling Meadows. As seen in the Chicago Tribune article of August 2, 2011 (titled “Cops: Woman scrolling through phone strikes truck, pins man changing tire“) the driver was involved in an accident, causing critical injuries. According to the article, the woman was “…was cited with text messaging while driving, improper lane usage and improperly driving on the shoulder…”
Laws enacted concerning distracted driving
There have been a variety of laws enacted against distracted driving. Illinois laws are summarized at the distraction.gov site page regarding “State Laws.” Among the Illinois laws, texting while driving is illegal, and there is a handheld cellphone ban for drivers.
Injury costs and expenses
Depending upon the characteristics of a distracted driving accident, there are many types of expenses that can be incurred from any resulting injuries. Typically, medical bills may be (very) high, especially if the injured person does not have health insurance to pay for medical bills. Even for those people who have insurance, bills can be substantial, given deductibles, costs that aren’t covered, and the (very) high costs of medical care, including tests. Given these expenses – as well as other direct and indirect costs discussed below – many people who are injured and otherwise hurt by a distracted driver seek to obtain injury compensation through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit. Compensation sought in these lawsuits can include many different types. Compensation types can include (but are not limited to) that for:
- Medical costs (past, current and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of function
- Lost wages
- Other economic damages
A personal injury lawyer can provide an overview as to what types of compensation – as well as what amounts – may be reasonably expected given the specific characteristics of the accident, the injuries, and the overall legal and medical situations.
What to do if you have been injured by a distracted driver
The above discusses various aspects of accidents involving distracted drivers. As with any type of vehicle accident, accident injuries can be serious in nature – and in some cases can be either life-threatening or fatal.
Should you be injured in such a collision, there are steps you should take to protect both your health as well as your legal rights. These rights include your ability for potential injury compensation if the accident was the fault of another person or entity.
Elman Law Group discusses 10 steps to take after a vehicle accident on the “Steps To Take After An Auto Accident” page.
As mentioned on that page, it is recommended that you get a comprehensive medical exam if you have been injured in an accident. There are many health and legal reasons for this recommendation. One of the reasons is that some accident injury symptoms may not be apparent at the time of the accident. These “delayed” symptoms are what some call “delayed onset.” A thorough medical examination can check for accident injuries that have occurred but may not be apparent. There are many examples of people who have suffered serious accident injuries but aren’t aware of these injuries for a substantial time period. A delay in medical treatment can create a health threat. In some cases such delay in proper health care treatment can become life-threatening if not fatal. Serious injuries with symptoms that may not be apparent for a considerable time period include concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and internal bleeding.
From a legal perspective, it is highly recommended that you speak with an Illinois personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident injury. While many people who have been recently injured in an accident may find this to be inconvenient – or otherwise wish to delay such a conversation – there are various steps you should quickly take to protect your legal rights and to help you attain compensation for your accident injuries and other harm that may have occurred. The personal injury lawyer can determine if the filing of a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate. As well, the lawyer can tell you what the statute of limitations is with regard to the type of lawsuit. [For those who represent a person that has died due to an accident, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be warranted.]
If you were injured in an accident, call Tony Elman, Lead Trial Attorney at the Elman Law Group, at (773) 392-8182 to discuss the accident and see what legal actions – including the filing of a lawsuit – may be appropriate. This discussion is provided free of charge and is confidential in nature.
Elman Law Group, LLC has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for 25+ years, and during this time has handled over 10,000 personal injury cases. Through this extensive experience, the Elman Law Group has built a reputation for its court trial performance. As seen in many of its cases, this successful trial experience may (substantially) increase potential accident injury compensation.
Elman Law Group, LLC handles cases on a contingency basis…clients are not charged legal fees unless and until they get money.