The New Age of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving has certainly increased over the past ten years. While the rate of drivers holding a phone in their hand to talk or text has dropped by half (from 6.2% in 2007 to 3.3% in 2016), other use of cell phones while driving has increased.
Only 0.7% of drivers used a hands-free headset in 2007. In 2016, 2.1% of drivers were using this slightly safer method. That’s good. But using a hands-free device is still distracting. Even carrying on a conversation can be distracting to a driver. When a driver is talking, he or she can’t hear important sounds such as sirens, construction work, and horns from other drivers.
This is a big problem in Arizona. According to a report by the Governors Highway Association, Arizona state has the third-highest number of pedestrian fatalities. While things like speeding and reckless driving did contribute to some of those accidents, there’s no doubt that distracted driving caused the majority. This is made clear by what happened in Glendale recently: one man died and two others were severely injured when they were hit by a car. Investigators believe that distracted driving contributed to the crash.
How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
Many studies have shown that distracted driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence; the most recent study came from Harvard University in 2016. Washington State has recently enacted an E-DUI law, “driving under the influence of electronics.” And it seems that many Americans agree with this.
In a survey conducted by the Harris Poll for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, over 2,000 adults were asked what they believed to be the most dangerous activities someone could perform while driving. Nine in 10 respondents considered driving while using a cell phone as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or opioids—and more dangerous than driving under the influence of marijuana.
But the state of Arizona has not caught on as quickly. Currently, Arizona has no legislation banning the use of cell phones while driving; instead, it’s left up to individual cities to enact a ban if they so choose. Some cities, such as Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, have banned texting while driving, but other cities have no laws over cell phone use. That’s leaving millions of drivers, particularly young drivers, at risk. If the state ever does pass legislation pertaining to distracted driving, it may want to include other distractions in addition to cell phones.
Forms of Distracted Driving
Cell phones might get all the attention when it comes to distracted driving, but there are other types of distractions, too. Eating, drinking, grooming, changing radio stations, using GPS apps, reading, flossing, and driving with a pet in your lap are all forms of distractions.
And depending on the time of year, there are other distractions to consider as well. What about a Christmas light display down the street that just has to be stared at while a driver is driving past? A romantic couple embracing on Valentine’s Day? A glaringly green St. Patrick’s day parade? Or Halloween decorations that scream, “Look at me”?
Drivers have to pay close attention at all times while driving. That means turning the volume on the radio down, limiting conversations with passengers, and doing only one thing behind the wheel: driving. Even if there is no official legislation yet, distracted driving is extremely dangerous and paying close attention to the road is the only way to ensure that everyone will arrive home safely.
If you were hit by a distracted driver, we can help. Breyer Law Offices, P.C., has a stellar reputation for assisting Arizona residents with vehicle accidents of all types. Just call (602) 267-1280 for a free, no-obligation consultation.