We have reported frequently that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents and highway fatalities. We all know that many drivers are distracted by eating, drinking, texting, talking to other in the vehicle, and talking on a cellphone. Sometimes, an action that is seemingly innocuous, such as searching for a radio station, can be demonstrated as the cause of a car crash due to distracted driving. But who are the most distracted drivers on our roads today? Who is most likely to lose their focus on driving while behind the wheel?
We reported recently that it is very common for those most likely to drive distracted think doing so is “no big deal.” They also tend to believe that they can handle the combination of driving and performing another task. What is more, these drivers tend to believe they “had little control over being distracted,” according to the author of a study conducted in Norway by the Institute of Transport Economics. The report noted that others more prone to distracted driving “include those who drive often, and those with neurotic and extroverted personalities.”
The group most likely to drive distracted in the study were young men. Those who were able to maintain their focus on driving were older women and those who believed they could control their distractions.
The World Health Organization has estimated that more than one million lives are taken on roadways every year by distracted drivers. Being distracted from driving for a mere two seconds significantly increases the risk of a crash.
We tested the observations made by those involved in the Norwegian study by reviewing the number of people killed and injured in crashes due to distracted driving. First, we looked at all people involved in a distracted driving crash, including passengers. For the year to date, the data in Virginia is:
|People involved in crashes||Fatalities||Injuries|
|8 to 9||93||0||97|
|10 to 14||231||4||269|
|21 to 25||5,940||16||1,693|
|26 to 30||4,861||25||1,402|
|31 to 35||4,162||8||1,242|
|36 to 40||3,576||11||1,039|
|41 to 45||3,107||8||887|
|46 to 50||3,275||19||984|
|51 to 55||3,041||13||964|
|56 to 60||2,721||19||840|
|61 to 65||2,063||13||653|
|66 to 70||1,498||13||449|
This data identifies the greatest number of distracted drivers to be of the ages of 21 to 50.
The second chart (below) shows injuries and fatalities only for the distracted drivers.
|People involved in crashes||Distracted Driver Fatalities||Distracted Driver Injuries|
|8 to 9||4||0||4|
|10 to 14||16||0||9|
|21 to 25||4,137||10||882|
|26 to 30||3,026||19||695|
|31 to 35||2,234||8||527|
|36 to 40||1,805||7||440|
|41 to 45||1,406||4||340|
|46 to 50||1,426||13||327|
|51 to 55||1,265||7||305|
|56 to 60||1,151||16||281|
|61 to 65||907||5||234|
|66 to 70||687||5||178|
Clearly, the number of people injured and killed by distracted drivers in Virginia this year is compelling.
The next question we must ask is how we can reduce the number of distracted drivers on our roadways. The authors of the Norwegian study noted that simply “presenting people with information” about distracted driving only raises awareness of the problem. It is not an effective deterrent to the behavior.
An effective approach to the challenge of reducing distracted driving may need to be personalized. Awareness of the problems of distracted driving will only have minimal effect on drivers who believe they are helpless to control their distractions. How behavioral interventions can be orchestrated for individuals will require further study, time, and willingness to change by those in the high-risk groups of drivers. Perhaps the only adequate interventions must be devised in part by the drivers themselves.
At this time, we can make observations and identify promising opportunities to effect change. Solving the problem, however, will not happen quickly. Until that time distracted driving will continue, causing more injuries and more deaths.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, and through no fault of your own, call the experienced and trusted attorneys of Altizer Law, P.C. Bettina and Terri will fight to obtain justice and to obtain the highest possible financial compensation for your hurts and harms.