One of the most common causes of car accidents in Seattle and around King County is distracted driving. In 2017, the State of Washington saw 11,504 distracted driving accidents and 87 resulting fatalities. The Seattle Times reported that Seattle itself had more than 1,340 distracted driving accidents.
By having a driver’s license and heading out onto the road, a motorist has the duty to drive carefully and in a manner that reduces the risk of a crash. Failing to drive as carefully as possible by becoming distracted is negligence. When this negligence leads to a crash, the distracted driver may be liable.
Types of Distraction
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does a great job of breaking down distraction and how it impacts drivers:
One of the three types of distraction is manual. With regard to driving, this relates to drivers keeping their hands on the wheel or the gear shift. When a driver is distracted, they may take their hands from the wheel, which can delay the driver’s response time. Also, when a driver quickly throws their hands back on the wheel, they may over-correct in reaction to a potential hazard or possible collision.
Many drivers take cognitive attention for granted while driving. Many people use this time to think about everything else—work, school, the kids—instead of concentrating on driving. However, when a driver’s mind wanders to other topics or even slips into autopilot, this can be dangerous. Cognitive distraction can lead to drivers to fail to see and obey traffic signs and signals or to pay attention to what other drivers on the road are doing.
Most people think of visual distraction when they think of distracted drivers. It is very dangerous for a motorist to take their eyes off the road. In a matter of seconds, the driver’s vehicle will have moved a significant length and during that time, the driver will not see an incoming or stopped vehicle or any other hazard. Cellphones are closely linked to visual distraction because even drivers who use hands-free features will often look at the phone.
Distracted Driving Statistics
In 2017, 9% of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These accidents included 2,994 distracted drivers and led to 3,166 fatalities.
Among these crashes, 401 involved the use of a cell phone, the NHTSA reported. This means 14% of all fatal distraction-affected crashes in 2017 were related to cell phone use, including listening to, talking on, or otherwise engaging with the cell phone at the time of the crash. These accounted for 434 deaths.
Most drivers distracted by cell phone were between the ages of 20 and 29 years (151 drivers), followed by 30-to-39-year-olds (86 drivers), and 15-to-19-year-olds (63 drivers).
Twenty-somethings also had the most distracted drivers overall (816 drivers), followed by 30-somethings (557 drivers), and then 40-somethings (431 drivers). Teens had the second-fewest number of distracted drivers (271 drivers) behind 60-to-69-year-olds (224).
Common Distractions While Driving
Cognitive, visual, and manual distractions can come from anywhere, but most are the driver’s bad habits and can be avoided.
Common forms of distraction that contribute to collisions include:
- Talking on the cell phone
- Using GPS on a cell phone
- Using in-vehicle systems
- Eating and drinking
- Interacting with passengers
- Grooming and applying makeup
- Reaching for items in the car
- Looking at something outside of the car (“rubbernecking”)
Teens At Significant Risk for Distracted Driving
Adults have their fair share of distractions while driving and they know it. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) annual Traffic Safety Culture Index uncovered that 88% of drivers believe distracted driving is a growing concern on the road and 78% believe texting is a significant danger. However, studies also have found that teen driver accidents are linked to distracted driving crashes.
Researchers for AAA followed teen drivers between ages 16 and 19 years from August 2007 and July 2013 and then additional teen drivers from August 2013 to April 2015. They examined 1,691 crashes from the original group and another 538 crashes from the second group. With the use of footage obtained via DriveCams, researchers examined the six seconds preceding the crashes.
The researchers found between 2007 and 2015, an average of 59% of crashes had potentially distracting behaviors in the six seconds before the crash. The most frequent distracting behaviors were interacting with passengers and using a cell phone. The driver was using a cell phone in 12% of crashes.
Contact Menzer Law Firm
If another driver’s inattention leads to a crash that causes you harm, you can pursue fair compensation through an auto insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. During both the insurance claim and the litigation process, you may benefit from a Seattle personal injury lawyer who can skillfully prove the other driver’s distraction and responsibility for your injuries.
Contact Menzer Law Firm for help through our online form or by calling (206) 903-1818.