Automobile accident deaths last year in the United States were estimated to be greater than 40,000, the highest total in nearly a decade. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on distracted driving calls the problem an “epidemic”. Yet not much is being done to combat the issue, especially considering the combination of cell phone use and automobile operation is increasingly encouraged by new automaker technology.
Most people think that texting while driving is the problem and eliminating hands-on texting behind the wheel is the solution. Texting while driving is certainly dangerous, and the frequency at which teens text combined with the number of teen driver fatalities each year indicates that teen driver texting is tough to dispute. But texting is not the only dangerous distraction for sober drivers.
The NAS study found that several other activities contribute to the distracted driving epidemic in America. Their survey claims that 36 percent, or 4 million of the nearly 11 million crashes annually in the U.S., would be avoided if no distraction was present.
What Are Some Other Forms of Driver Distraction?
Operating the car radio doubles the risk of a crash. Car radios were first introduced in the 1930’s, however they are very different today. What was originally a simple knob and push button system has evolved into complicated multi-disk and iPod dock systems that require concentration and undivided attention to use.
Navigating a touch-screen menu increases the risk of accident by a factor of 4.6. Virtually all new car models come with some kind of touch screen. Many are simple to use and designed so that drivers can quickly become familiar with their vehicle’s touch-screen system. But NSA researchers believe that driver confidence in using the touch-screen actually contributes to the problem, as they are more likely to use it while driving.
Reaching for an object, such as a cell phone that slid into the floorboard, is extremely dangerous because it disorients the driver and takes them completely out of position. Reaching for an object takes one or both driver hands off the wheel and takes mirrors or the windshield out of the drivers line of sight, making an accident 9 times more likely to occur.
The study found the most dangerous activity of all was the process of dialing a phone number on a cell phone. Dialing the ten necessary digits requires complete focus and takes the driver’s eyes off the road for an extended length of time. Dialing a phone number increases accident chances by a staggering factor of 12.2, the greatest of any observed in the NAS study.
Is Hands-Free the Solution?
Hands-free or not, the NAS found that cell phone use of any kind was involved in 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. And according to the study, people cause 94 percent of all accidents. These numbers are fueling automakers to increase their efforts in developing auto-pilot technology, but mass production of this technology is a long way off. The NAS states that cars will need to be driven “hundreds of millions of miles on autopilot to be deemed fail-safe”.
Solving the distracted driver epidemic begins with responsible choices made by drivers who understand the problem and the role their actions play in it. A conscious decision from every driver to drive without distractions will bring Kentucky closer to its goal of accident-free roadways.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver, Thomas Law Offices can help. Our office can pair you with a Louisville car accident lawyer who is dedicated to helping drivers of Kentucky become accident-free. Contact our experienced legal team today for a free, no-obligation consultation of your case.