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How to better understand distracted driving


Car accidents are among the top two causes of injury and death. Each year since 1994, between greater than 32,000 victims and 43,500 victims have been killed in car accidents. Motorcyclists, pedestrians and others are also included in the number of fatalities caused in motor vehicle accidents. In addition to deaths, victims of car accidents also suffer life-altering injuries in car accidents. There were a total of 2.2 million vehicle accident injuries in 2010.

Driver distractions are now a leading factor contributing to fatal car accidents and serious injury car accidents along with alcohol use and speeding. The National Safety Council estimates 21 percent of car accidents in 2010 involve the use of cell phones including talking on cell phones. In addition, at least 3 percent of car accidents are estimated to involve texting. Most of the efforts aimed at the prevention of distracted driving focus on limiting cell phone use making it hands free.

Hands-free cell phone use, however, does not account or the problem of cognitive distraction which is one type of distraction in addition to manual and visual forms of distraction. Cognitive distraction can occur when a distracted driver is attempting to multitask. Multitasking limits the performance of the driver. As a result, a number of different activities including reading or sending emails, using social media web sites or apps, as well as utilizing a navigation system or radio, eating or grooming while driving can all be considered problematic distracted driving behaviors and may result in liability to injured victims.

Distracted driving-related car accidents result in serious consequences for victims and families and may include negative physical, financial and emotional impacts. Victims may be able to recover compensation from a negligent or distracted driver for the physical, financial and emotional damages they have suffered which is why they should be familiar with the legal options available that acknowledge and understand the problems they are facing and are designed to help them.

Source: National Safety Council, "Understanding the Distracted Brain," April 2012

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