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April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Give Yourself a Test

by John Gomez | Last Updated: April 4, 2017
Distracted Driving Awareness

By now everyone who drives should be aware that distracted driving is a serious problem and a mistake that should be avoided at all costs.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be what’s happening on the roads of the United States.  Given that reality, the San Diego car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys would like to spread the word that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Perhaps if all of us take a few minutes to check on our driving habits and norms, we could discover some problems that we can eliminate.  Doing so would make our roads that much safer every day.  We would collectively avoid car accidents and injuries and we would also save countless lives.  Below you’ll find an overview of this issue.  You’ll also find some examples of bad habits to watch for when you drive.

Distracted Driving Awareness – Troubling Statistics

The first fact that motorists should be aware of if they are not already involves the actual number of car accidents that are either directly caused or at least influenced by distracted driving.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, the following statistics describe the problem that is distracted driving in the United States:

  • 3,477 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2015 because of distracted driving.
  • That equates to more than 9 people every day or one person every 2.5 hours.
  • Distracted driving crashes injured 391,000 people in the United States in 2015 alone.
  • That equates to one person suffering injuries every one minute and 20 seconds, every day.
  • During any given daytime moment, approximately 542,000 people are driving and using handheld cellphones.

Those interested in reviewing the full body of data from the NHTSA can find it here.  The bottom line is that despite all of the laws that are in place across the United States, too many people continue to drive distracted.

Distracted Driving Awareness – Have You Picked Up Bad Driving Habits?

According to the American Automobile Association, or AAA, Americans spend an average of 17,600 minutes behind the wheel of a vehicle every year.  That’s more than 293 hours or more than 45 minutes every single day of the year.  Whenever we do anything as much as we drive, we are bound to pick up bad habits over time as we naturally stop paying attention to everything we focused on when we initially learned the skill.  When bad habits arise behind the wheel, the situation quickly becomes dangerous.  In furtherance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’d like to provide the 5 most common distractions behind the wheel below.  We encourage you to take some time to decipher whether or not you engage in any of these activities.

Distraction 1 – Cellphone Use

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, cell phone use is the leading cause of distracted driving.  Cellphones are almost notorious now with regards to the distracted driving issue.  In fact, most people think of someone talking on a phone when they are asked to describe distracted driving.

Suggested Solution: Simply put, you should not use your cell phone when you drive.  Put your phone away and out of your reach and do not use it unless you pull over.  California bans the use of any handheld device for phone calls or texting/emailing.

Distraction 2 – Reaching For a Moving Object Inside the Vehicle

We all tend to bring certain things with us when we get into our vehicles to start our days.  Some people carry purses or briefcases and as mentioned above many of us carry a cellphone or some other device.  Regardless, the California DMV cites reaching for a moving object inside of the vehicle as a leading cause of distracted driving accidents.

Suggested Solution: It’s natural for our eyes to follow a moving object and to reach for it while it’s moving.  The obvious solution is to stow items that may move in a secure location.  Place cell phones in the glove box.  Place purses, briefcases or other bags on the floor or in the trunk of the vehicle.

Distraction 3 – Looking At an Outside Object Or Event

As mentioned above, we spend more than 17,000 minutes per year on average behind the wheel.  Many of us drive the same or similar routes every day.  As such, our eyes tend to wander, particularly if there is something of interest nearby.  Gawking at car accidents is known as rubbernecking, and many of us engage in this activity.  Regardless of what we are looking at, focusing on outside events while we drive is a leading cause of distracted driving accidents.

Suggested Solution: In this situation, the motorist simply needs to focus on eye discipline.  Most of us have seen distracted drivers nearly collide with us because they were not paying attention to the road.  When some outside distraction arises, remind yourself that most if not all of the motorists nearby are looking at that and not the road.  You need to be ready to counter a potential mistake by someone else.

Distraction 4 – Reading

We obviously use our eyes to see where we are going when we drive.  We also use them to read.  No one can effectively use his or her eyes for two simultaneous tasks that require focus.  Given the plethora of things to read in vehicles these days – text messages, emails, GPS devices, navigation systems, etc. – it’s no surprise that reading is one of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents.

Suggested Solution: Plan ahead.  As stated above, put your cellphone or other devices away and out of your reach before you begin to drive.  Program your destination address into your GPS before you start your trip and do not adjust it.  Make sure your GPS provides audio guidance so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Distraction 5 – Applying Makeup

Although it seems obvious that applying makeup while driving is dangerous, a lot of motorists continue to do so.  According to an article that appeared in 2013, insurers have estimated that as many as 450,000 car accidents per year are caused by motorists who are distracted while putting on cosmetics of some sort.  That equates to more than 50 crashes per hour or nearly one every minute of the year.

Suggested Solution: The solution to this problem is obvious in that no one should be applying makeup, shaving or grooming in any way while driving.  If you find that you’re late for the day and do not have time to handle this task, you’re better off being a few minutes late or pulling over than you are risking your life and the lives of others.

Distracted Driving Awareness – How San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

We hope that everyone does make the effort to honestly evaluate their own driving during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Even the smallest of adjustments can save lives.  Unfortunately, distracted driving crashes are going to continue to occur.  One way you can help eliminate this problem is by taking action if you or someone you love is injured by a distracted driver.  If this has occurred, contact the San Diego car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.

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