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.