Tag Archive for: distracted driving

Dangers of Distracted Driving

Tragic Death of Teen Highlights Dangers of Distracted Driving

A tragic accident earlier this year serves as a reminder of how hard it can be to avoid the distraction of a phone while driving, and the dangers those distractions can pose. In May of this year, a local 17-year-old in a Mazda 6 was leaving a friend’s house at around 2:15 in the afternoon, heading toward Highway 45 in Citronelle. According to Citronelle Police, the teen, whose name was not released due to her age, was briefly distracted by her phone while driving, and unfortunately pulled out onto the highway at the wrong moment. An oncoming tractor-trailer already traveling at highway speeds was unable to avoid the Mazda, and the girl was killed in the crash. The driver of the tractor-trailer did not experience any injuries.

Distracted driving remains a major problem on US roads. Texting while driving is often cited as a major problem, but there are many ways that drivers can become distracted to a dangerous degree. There are three forms of driver distraction: 1) Visual, where the driver takes their eyes off the road; 2) Cognitive, where the driver takes their mind off the road, and; 3) Manual, where the driver takes their hands off the wheel. An activity like eating while driving would likely be both a manual and visual distraction. Looking at a GPS device for directions, a visual distraction. However, texting while driving is a cognitive, visual, and manual distraction. Texting while driving can make a crash up to 23 times more likely to occur. Texting takes the driver’s eyes off the road for a prolonged period of time, as compared to many other activities. Researchers estimate that a driver will spend at least five seconds with her eyes off the road if texting while driving. When traveling at 55 mph, this would mean that the car would travel the length of a football field before the driver looked up. The US Department of Transportation has found that teens make up the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of a fatal crash.

Hopefully, this tragedy can help others to be more aware of the dangers not just of sending a text while driving but reading one as well. As this incident illustrates, distracted driving can be as dangerous to the distracted driver as it is to others on the road. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, contact the skilled attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum for a free consultation on your car accident and personal injury claims, at 866-224-8664.

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Pedestrian Killed in Far Northeast Atlanta

The Hall County Sherriff’s Office reports that a pedestrian was killed in a Hall County personal injury accident in the early morning hours of Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

The victim was crossing State Road 211, near State Road 53, when she was hit and killed by an oncoming car. State Road 211 was closed for some time as authorities gathered evidence and spoke with witnesses.

Serious pedestrian accidents such as this are all too common, especially on roads where the pedestrian must walk on the shoulder or cross traffic without a light. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) further points out that most pedestrian deaths occur between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., or during the weekend, when motorists are less likely to be looking for pedestrians. NHTSA predicted that the overall number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents may fall, but that the injuries suffered in these incidents may become more severe.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Like most other motor vehicle accidents, many pedestrian-vehicle accidents may share one or more common causes:

  • Distracted Driving. Even if motorists are aware that pedestrians may be in the area, drivers may still be too distracted to adequately look out for pedestrians. Most pedestrian victims are either under age 10 or over age 65, perhaps underscoring the fact that drivers are simply not watching carefully enough.
  • Speed. Although the incidents of pedestrian-vehicle accidents increases as the speed limit increases, less than 10% of pedestrian-vehicle accidents involve excessive speed. These statistics suggest that speed is more of an indirect factor. Drivers are watchful for pedestrians on neighborhood streets and side streets, but tend to ignore pedestrians on major roads and highways.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, regardless of the cause, speak to the experienced attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum to preserve any rights to recovery you may have.

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Distracted Driving: Hands Free Does Not Mean Risk Free

Today’s motorists have hands-free mobile devices and fixed communication and entertainment systems in their cars. Is all this new technology safe?

According to a new study by the Automobile Association of America (AAA), the answer is decidedly no. The study used advanced technology to measure not only the physical, but mental distraction faced by drivers challenged by cell phones, radios and infotainment units built into their cars. Participants performed three tasks in different environments and under different conditions.

The research identified three types of distraction, eyes off the road (visual), hands off the wheel (physical) and mind off the road (mental). AAA sought to evaluate the common belief that hands-free communication is considerably safer than the use of hands-on cellular technology.

Some startling results of the study include:

  • Motorists using hands-free cell phones to send messages are approximately two times more distracted than drivers who do not use cell phones. They are three times more distracted if using an in-dash computer or communication system.
  • The study identified sources of cognitive distraction that included listening to the radio or an audiobook, talking with a passenger, talking on a cell phone or hands-free phone or interacting with a speech-to-text dash system.
  • Cognitive distraction caused decreased neural activity and visual scanning, increased reaction time and a higher number of missed cues, or inattention blindness.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving contributes to more than 3,000 deaths per year. Even as manufacturers rush to design more sophisticated car communication systems, this research recommends limiting and disabling such technology along with educating drivers about the pressing danger of cognitive distraction.

While a marvel, the human brain cannot truly multi-task. Stay off any phone and keep your attention on the road. If you are injured by a distracted driver, get good legal counsel.