Cell phones are part of life and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. We all need to learn how to better balance our device usage – especially when we’re driving. There are so many different car accident statistics that support this and show just how dangerous distracted driving can be.
This infographic helps show the dangers of distracted driving:
One of the most exciting rights of passage for young adults is getting your driver’s license. With that accomplishment comes a lot of responsibility. Getting behind the wheel is a big deal. And the rush of freedom for both the teen and parents is exciting. Car accidents and fatal crashes are the last things on a teenager’s mind.
Suddenly, mom or dad has another driver they can send to the store for milk or bread. On the flip side, the requests will start flooding in to go hang out with friends or drive to school with their friends, never thinking about the possibility of car crashes. You remind them to wear their seat belt and be careful and let them go on their way.
Before you jump into this newfound freedom, it’s important to talk about the impacts of distracted driving and traffic safety – specifically the dangers of texting and driving – and road safety, including sharing car crash statistics and the importance of highway safety with your teen drivers.
What is Distracted Driving?
There are so many different things that can cause anyone to be distracted while driving, regardless of how much driving experience they’ve got. We all think about obvious things like texting while driving or driving under the influence, but distractions come in a variety of different forms and are responsible for traffic crashes:
- talking with passengers
- changing the music or radio station
- making phone or video calls
- eating while driving
- fixing makeup or hair
- checking email and social media
- daydreaming or thinking about something else
- drowsy driving
Any time you’re taking your eyes or attention away from the road and vehicles and pedestrians on it, you’re driving while distracted and could cause car accidents, serious injuries, or even motor vehicle deaths.
Drivers in every age group are guilty of being distracted at one time or another, but there are some drivers who are more likely to cause or be in an auto accident while distracted than others. Car crash statistics show 20 – 29 year olds had the highest rates for fatal crashes, followed by drivers 15 – 19 years old.
Because every driver can be distracted, it’s important that you’re paying attention to react to other distractions and avoid auto accidents. Fatal motor vehicle crashes can happen in the blink of an eye. In 2020, 38,680 people died in traffic crashes despite fewer people driving because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When is Distracted Driving More Likely?
Distracted driving can happen any time you’re around motor vehicles, but there are times when it’s more common. Knowing when car accidents are more likely to happen can help you protect yourself and the passengers in the vehicles.
Nearly half of car crash deaths happen on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday according to data from 2019. Weekends are almost always busier with sports, gatherings, and other obligations so there are more drivers on the road, as well as more distractions and opportunities for car crashes.
Holidays are also a particularly dangerous time for drivers involved in traffic accidents related to distracted driving:
- Independence Day (498 deaths)
- Memorial Day (453 deaths)
- Labor Day (433 deaths)
- New Year’s Day (428 deaths)
- Thanksgiving Day (406 deaths)
- Christmas Day (129 deaths)
The beginning of daylight savings time is also when more accidents occur based on studies. Our bodies take time to adjust to the time changes so you might be more sleepy or rushed because you overslept, putting you more at risk for motor vehicle crashes, studies show.
It’s not only the time of day or time of year that can increase distractions and car accidents. Every passenger in the car increases the risk of car accidents related to being distracted while driving.
Driving at night can also increase the chance of car accidents for drivers of any age or experience level. Because visibility is limited, reaction times are affected and can be an extremely dangerous time to be on the road.
How Bad Can Texting and Driving Be?
Your phone dings or vibrates and you glance down to check it. Of course, you’ve got to respond, not thinking that might cause a car crash. One in four teens sends a text at least once every time they’re driving even though almost all of them say they understand the dangers of doing that, including things like causing a car accident or injury to pedestrians.
Car crash statistics show that 62% of all drivers admit to keeping their phones within reach while they’re driving, and most of them admit that texting is the thing they most often do while driving. Teens have reported that they expect a response to a text within five minutes, so there’s an added pressure to read and respond to text messages as soon as they come in, not thinking it could cause a car accident.
But taking your eyes off the road to text can have the same effect as drinking four beers in an hour. We all know that drinking and driving is a leading cause of car accidents and road traffic deaths.
Using your phone while you’re the driver can be just as dangerous and deadly as drunk driving. Texting while you drive doubles the risk compared to drunk driving. In fact, because of texting and driving, there are nearly 400 fatal auto accidents each year.
Just because nothing happened last time you sent a quick text while you were driving home doesn’t mean you won’t cause an accident or serious injury this time.
Every year, there are 1.35 million drivers involved in car accidents that cause car crash fatalities. That means 3,700 traffic deaths happen each day. More than 3,000 deaths each year are attributed to distracted driving car accidents. It’s not so much an “if” you’ll be affected by someone’s choice to drive distracted, but “when” you’ll have to deal with a situation like this.
How Much Does Distracted Driving Cost?
Distracted driving is responsible for nearly $129 billion in damages each year, while intoxicated drivers are responsible for nearly $132 billion each year. And injuries or car crash fatalities are not just limited to people inside the vehicle. In 2018, almost one of every five people who had fatal injuries because of traffic crashes were walking, running, biking, or doing something else outside of a vehicle.
When you’re looking at your phone to respond to that text driving 55 miles an hour, you’re driving one football field without your eyes on the road. And that’s just to look at the text, not the time you’re taking your mind off driving, or trying to respond to the text.
Your Florida car accident might not be fatal, but there are so many different outcomes that can be just as serious and devastating. Car accidents result in traffic tickets, vehicle and property repair costs, higher auto insurance coverage rates, and medical bills for everyone involved.
Even if no one is seriously injured or killed, as the driver, you can still get a traffic ticket from law enforcement officers for distracted driving. In addition to fines, your car insurance premiums can also increase. If you’ve caused damage to another vehicle or piece of property, there can also be repair costs associated with that as well. You may even have lost wages if you have to miss work because of a car accident.
How Teens are Affected
Car crashes caused by distracted drivers are not only dangerous – they’re deadly, statistics show. Oftentimes teens tend to think they’re invincible. Unfortunately, it usually takes a tragedy for them to understand that’s not the case.
Teens admit to knowing that distracted driving is dangerous, but still do things that distract them while driving.
They may have seen or heard about a friend or family member who was in a car accident or fatal crash, but because it hasn’t happened to them, it doesn’t seem real. Their friend isn’t as good of a driver as they are and must not have been paying attention, it couldn’t be their friend’s fault or one of many other excuses they tell themselves.
Nearly 2,400 teens (13 – 19 year olds) were killed in car accidents in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They also report that about 258,000 were seen in an emergency medical setting because of injuries from car crashes. 16 – 19 year old males have two times higher death rates per vehicle miles driven, because of car accidents than females.
Distracted driving doesn’t just affect the drivers in the vehicle. In 2018, one in five traffic fatalities were caused by distracted drivers with the accident victims being outside the vehicle. That means that they were doing things like walking or biking, resulting in pedestrian deaths.
Just because you and your friends are making good decisions while driving doesn’t mean that everyone is. Traffic accident statistics tell a very different story and can show just how extremely dangerous distracted driving can be for drivers of any age.
Tips for Driving Without Distractions
How can you help your teen learn to drive safely? Give these tips a try to avoid auto accidents and fatal crashes:
Put Your Phone On Do Not Disturb Mode
Many phones have a setting that can be turned on to put your phone into a do not disturb mode while driving, complete with a text response to let those trying to reach you know that you’re driving and not able to respond
Download an App
If your teen’s phone doesn’t have a setting to disable distracting features while driving, there are lots of different apps available that can disable specific features while the car is moving known to cause distractions
Put the Phone Away
Sometimes just having the phone available is a distraction so putting the phone in a backpack, purse, glove box, or even the trunk can help make it less tempting to check the phone
There are so many in-person and online driving courses teens can take to help them be safer, more defensive drivers so they’re able to spot a distracted driver and hopefully avoid a fatal car crash
Be an Example
When you’re driving (or even a passenger), make choices you’d like to see your teen driver make: put your phone away and be present and focused on driving while behind the wheel
Remind your teen it’s ok to speak up when they’re a passenger and the driver is making poor choices
Ensure both front and back seat occupants are properly wearing their seat belts every single time to better protect everyone in case there is an accident
Child Safety Seats
Be sure children are buckled into the appropriate safety seats to keep them safe while in the car
Other Safety Equipment
Wearing bike helmets and motorcycle helmets to help protect yourself if you do find yourself in a dangerous situation
Obey Traffic Laws
Many states have legislation regarding speed limits, seat belts, and the use of cell phones while driving so be sure you know the laws in your area and follow them
Let other front seat occupants help with navigation and controlling the radio and temperature controls
All of these suggestions can be contributed to lives saved and none of them are hard for drivers to do.
What To Do If You’re Involved In a Car Crash
Don’t let all of these car crash statistics scare you. Car accidents can happen to any of us at any time. What you do after the accident can make all the difference, especially if you suffer a serious injury.
If you’re a Florida car accident victim because of a distracted driver, impaired driving, drunk driving, a hit and run, or for another reason, it’s important to take care of yourself. A big part of your recovery will be managing your health insurance and auto insurance claims to be sure you’re getting help with repairs and medical bills from your insurance company.
You can handle the aftermath of car accidents on your own, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Trying to recover, coordinate vehicle repairs from the car crash, getting back to work, dealing with insurance adjusters in an attempt to get the full insurance coverage, and gathering all the documentation you need can be a full-time job.
That can all be a lot to handle, so talking with a personal injury attorney to have someone on your team and help take care of the details while you focus on recovering can be beneficial. Finding an attorney that’s experienced in motor vehicle accidents and working with car crash victims or drivers who may be at fault for the car accident is important.
Many attorneys offer a free consultation to review your case with you and offer legal advice. They’ll work with you to help you get the financial compensation you’re entitled to based on the law to help with things like medical bills and property damage.
Denmon Pearlman is a law firm that offers a free consultation with no obligation to Florida car accident victims, so call us today. We’ll walk you through what steps you need to take before you take legal action. We encourage you to ask questions about our process along the way and will work to help you get the financial compensation you deserve.