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Distracted Driving Causes Accidents – Another Reason Why

by John Gomez | Last Updated: April 12, 2017
Distracted Driving Causes

As Distracted Driving Awareness Month continues, the San Diego car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys continue to work to raise our collective level of awareness with regards to this public safety problem.  Those who are aware of the details regarding distracted driving understand that items such as smartphones are the reason for a large number of distracted motorists.  In some cases, work-related stress can be so intense that it prompts a person to drive distracted.  Overall, we have looked at several different reasons as to why people become distracted while driving.  However, distracted driving causes are only part of the problem.  We also need to look at what occurs when a driver is distracted such that it affects his or her actions.  A recent study delves into that issue specifically, and it provides useful information as to what can occur when someone is not paying attention to the road.

About the Distracted Driving Danger Study

Researchers in Australia completed the study.  Those interested in reviewing it can find it here.  The researchers set out to investigate the speed adaptation tendencies of distracted drivers as they encountered different traffic circumstances.  The subjects who participated in the study used a driving simulator so data could be collected instantly.  Specifically, 32 subjects drove the simulator.  All of them were young and fully licensed drivers in Australia.  Each of them encountered three different driving conditions:

  • Driving without a phone conversation occurring
  • Driving while having a phone conversation with a hands-free phone
  • Speaking on a handheld phone while driving

Some of the different driving environments that the subjects encountered included:

  • Free-flowing traffic along straight roads
  • Driving in urbanized areas
  • Driving in heavy traffic along suburban roads

The theory behind the study was that motorists tend to adjust their speed when they are driving distracted.  The researchers found, when combining all factors in terms of phones used, etc., that drivers slowed by an average of 2 miles per hour when driving in free-flowing traffic and by more than 3 miles per hour when trailing another vehicle when they were distracted as compared to when they were not having a phone conversation.  Overall, the researchers found that one of the main ways that motorists react – whether subconsciously or not – to being distracted is to slow down.

Is Slowing Down a Bad Thing?

In many difficult driving conditions, such as when it’s raining, slippery or snowing, we are taught that the best thing we can do is simply slow down.  Speed limits have been enforced since all of us have learned to drive.  We have had it drilled into our heads that slow driving is safe driving.  While that’s true in many circumstances, driving too slowly is actually quite dangerous, particularly in environments where vehicles are moving at high rates of speed.

Driving too slowly for the conditions can lead to an entire list of serious dangers for that motorist and anyone else in the area at the time.  The most common reaction to someone driving too slowly, according to several studies, is frustration on the part of drivers who want to move at the speed limit.  This frustration in some cases can lead to road rage at worst, poor decisions at best.  These poor decisions include attempting aggressive maneuvers, losing focus on the road in general and prompting others into poor decisions.  Driving too slowly can also invite collisions from other motorists who may not be paying attention to the road and who do not notice that they need to slow down to avoid the slow-moving driver.

Distracted Driving Causes and Variable Speeds

While driving too slowly is clearly a problem in many situations, another problem involves varying speeds.  The subjects in this study were apparently moving at a certain speed before becoming distracted and then slowing down because of the distraction.  Drivers tend to instinctually anticipate when conditions are such that people will slow down, such as in heavy traffic or in bad weather.  When someone is simply driving along and he or she slows down for no apparent reason, it invites danger and most likely the frustration mentioned above.  Many of us have likely been driving at certain times and avoided another driver, only to glance over and see that he or she was talking on a cellphone.  Therefore, many of us can identify with this frustration.

Distracted Driving Accident Statistics

Hopefully the results of this study will alert people to yet another problem that distracted driving causes.  That problem is random variations in speed that can frustrate other motorists and increase the chance for an accident.  If we continue to identify the problems that tend to be associated with distracted driving, more people will identify with at least one of them and perhaps drive with more focus.  If that were the case, perhaps the troubling statistics regarding distracted driving accidents would trend positively.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or the NHTSA, the following statistics relate to distracted driving accidents in the United States:

  • 3,477 people died in distracted driving car accidents in the United States in 2015.
  • 391,000 people were injured in these crashes.
  • An estimated 660,000 people are driving while using cellphones at any given moment during the day.

Broken down further, that means that more than 9 people are killed every single day in distracted driving crashes.  That also means that more than 1,000 people are injured in these accidents on a daily basis.  That’s more than 44 people every hour.

How San Diego Car Accident Lawyers Can Help

Unfortunately, in all likelihood people are going to continue to drive while distracted in numbers that are too great to protect the safety of everyone on the roads.  People who are injured or who lose loved ones because of this problem need to do their part to hold those responsible for this type of harm or loss accountable.  If this has happened to you or someone you love, seek the help of San Diego car accident attorneys who have been fighting for the rights of clients for more than a decade. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation.


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