A new study shows that 1 in 5 people are violating Chicago’s ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving, a law enacted to prevent deadly car crashes caused by distracted drivers.
Distracted driving incidents are a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nine people die and more than 1,000 individuals are hurt in accidents as a result of distracted driving every single day in the U.S.
Recognizing the dangers of distracted driving, Illinois law prohibits the use of handheld cellular phones and the activity of text messaging while behind the wheel. While these activities are illegal and recognized as risky, some people still choose to engage in this behavior or other forms of distraction while on the open road. In fact, one-third of Americans have admitted to sending or reading text or email messages while driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving refers to a range of activities in which the driver takes his or her attention off the road in order to focus on something else. This could include changing the radio station, talking on a cellphone, browsing the internet, talking with another passenger in the car, eating, personal grooming, or adjusting a vehicle navigation system. Many drivers who engage in this behaviors assume that either their attention isn’t really lost from the act of driving or that the time it takes to do these behaviors is so minimal that it doesn’t detract from their ability to operate a vehicle. The reality is that all it takes is a few seconds for a driver to miss an important cue from traffic or to lose control of the car.
Distracted driving accidents cause injuries and fatalities all over the nation. Unfortunately, too many distracted drivers learn too late that their actions have major ramifications. Some accident victims may never recover, and even those who do will never look at or live life the same way anymore. In 2011, more than 3300 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, and 387,000 were injured.
How Dangerous Are Cell Phones?
Although there are many different ways to be distracted while operating a vehicle, cell phones and text messaging are receiving a lot of attention as the most dangerous. Research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute backs those claims up, showing that engaging in visual-manual tasks (like dialing, texting, or reading messages on a phone) put drivers at three times the risk of getting into an accident. Text messaging is one of the most common forms of distracted driving despite the fact that it is illegal and Illinois and many other states. According to VTTI, text messaging caused drivers to pull their attention away from the road from an average of 23 seconds!
Even hands free phones can be challenging for use on the road since the user may still have to use some of the button phone functions to initiate or end their call. Using hands free phones requires those same visual-manual tasks at least half of the time. The very concept of communicating with someone else while driving can cause drivers to lose their focus on the road, putting others at risk for accidents, injuries, and even death.
The Influence of Drowsiness
Simply being tired is another way that a driver can become distracted. When tired, drivers tend to focus more on other activities in the car to keep them awake, whether that’s adjusting temperature, changing the radio, or making phone calls. When drowsiness meets distracted behavior, drivers have further reduced their ability to respond to situations on the road.
Tired drivers tend to lose their focus on the road, struggling to stay awake and losing focus on a regular basis can mean big consequences for others. It can also lead to criminal penalties and prison time for those who cause critical accidents.
Spotting a Distracted Driver
It can be difficult to determine when you are sharing the road with a distracted driver, but someone who is swerving, having difficulty maintaining speed, or appears to be breaking Illinois law by talking on a handheld cellphone are all clues that you should move away from this individual for your own safety.
Injuries from distracted driving accidents can be serious and life-changing. You may find it difficult to move on with your life after a distracted driving accident that has left you injured. If you or someone you know has been hurt because another driver wasn’t paying attention, you need legal representation.
Attorneys at Passen & Powell are experienced and can assist you if you have been seriously injured, or a loved one has lost their life due to negligence of a distracted driver. Call 312-527-4500 for a free consultation and rest assured with Passen law Group you have everything you need to gain justice and compensation for your tragedy.