The Brewer Law Offices P.C.

Call Now For A Personalized Case Evaluation

(303) 420-8080

The Brewer Law Offices P.C.

The Facts About Distracted Driving Accidents: What You Need To Know

  • By: Amy Brewer
  • Published: June 15, 2022
top distractions drivers

There’s a lot more to being distracted than texting while driving. And did you know that distracted driving actually causes a lot of accidents, and it might be more than you think. In this article, we’ll break down the data on what you need to know about driving while distracted. As well as the top distractions for drivers, how to reduce them, and all the most up-to-date information about distracted driving in the United States.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Distracted driving: why it matters.
  • The facts about distracted driving accidents. 
  • The top 4 distractions for driving.
  • How you can reduce distractions while driving.
  • What to do if you’re in an accident caused by distracted driving. 

Why does it matter to not drive distracted?

We all know by now that using your phone and trying to focus on the road don’t make a great combination. But does it really matter? According to research, it really does, and the actual data may shock you. From a study published by the U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2020, it was found that distracted driving really has an impact on the amount of vehicle accidents each year. Here’s what they found:

What percent of accidents are blamed on distracted driving?

The data is clear. Distracted driving causes a decent portion of crashes, including “8% of fatal crashes, 14% of injury crashes, and 13% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020.” This is in comparison to around 28% for traffic-related deaths caused by drunk driving. Considering everyone understands how important reducing the effects of drunk driving are, this is pretty strong evidence demonstrating how important it is to reduce your distractions while driving. 

Here’s the rest of the data from that same report: “6% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. 7% of drivers 15 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted.” 

And according to the study, “this age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.” Overall, this report shows significant negative consequences of being distracted while driving. Especially when drivers get too confident about it and attempt to drink hot coffee, answer the phone, adjust the A/C and keep their eyes on the road. Don’t be a distracted driver, the outcome may not be great, case in point: the amount of people harmed in these types of accidents. 

How many deaths are caused by distracted driving 2020?

In 2020 there were 3,142 people killed and an estimated additional 324,652 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, the report goes on to state. And “in 2020 there were 587 nonoccupants (pedestrians, pedalcyclists, and others) killed in distraction-affected crashes.” All this being said, why do these distractions happen and what can we do about it?

What are the top 4 distractions while driving?

The top 4 distractions while driving are: conversations including texting, phone calls and with other passengers, eating and drinking, and external distractions such as other drivers, pedestrians, signs and sights outside your window. Other distractions include smoking and playing around with your car’s settings like the AC and radio. 

The main three categories that contribute to distracted driving are: cognitive distractions, visual distractions, and manual distractions. Let’s take a deeper look at how these may lead to auto accidents.

Cognitive Distractions: we may think we’re good at multitasking, but studies have shown time and time again this is just false. When you have anything other than the present task in mind, you are cognitively distracted. While it may be impossible to stop your mind from wandering about things like what you’re going to eat for dinner when you get home, it’s good to notice it when you can. Then just bring your mind back to the road when you’re behind the wheel. 

Visual Distractions: this type of distraction is anything that may take our eyes off the road. This could include a text message, a passenger, a road sign, beautiful scenery, or adjusting the radio. It’s best to limit the amount your eyes have to look at other things besides the road. This can be easier to control than cognitive distractions, but sometimes it’s almost as difficult when it goes hand-in-hand with cognitive distractions, such as catching yourself staring at a sign without even realizing it.

Manual Distractions: this type of distraction means you physically are distracted from your driving, like changing the car or A/C settings, eating food or drinking, answering your phone or texting, or anything else that takes your hands off the wheel. All three of these can go hand-in-hand, and it’s what is called a triple threat. A triple threat is pretty risky behavior when you’re behind the wheel, and can lead to you or others getting harmed.

How do you reduce car distractions?

You may have noticed by now one of the top ways to avoid car crashes involving distractions is by being aware in the first place. A lot of the time drivers don’t realize how important not being distracted while driving is and so they don’t take it seriously. As soon as you understand this and don’t assume you’re a multitasking outlier, you’re already on the right path! Then making decisions like not having access to your phone, setting your A/C and radio before you start driving, and reducing your interaction with passengers as much as possible are all helpful to limit harmful distractions.You can also practice techniques like mindfulness to help combat cognitive and visual distractions.

What do you do if you’re involved in a car crash caused by distracted driving?

Sometimes accidents are unavoidable. So what happens if you’ve been in a car accident involving distracted driving? First, here’s a checklist [link] to what to do first when you’ve been in a car accident. And whether you’re at fault or not, you might want someone on your side. Should you get an auto accident lawyer? An attorney who’s well versed in the law in your area can help fight for you, get the most from the insurance companies and help protect you during the entire process. Find out how an attorney can help with a free consultation. 

Image: Photo by Toni Tan on Unsplash

Amy Brewer

About the Author