Study Finds Distracted Drivers Cause Worse Accidents

January 7th, 2019 by Wapner Newman

Distracted Driving Attorney

Pennsylvania drivers can be distracted by any number of things, whether that’s their smart phone, GPS, air conditioning controls or a screaming child in the back seat. What all these drivers have in common is not only an increased risk of causing an accident, but that the accident will be worse than one where a driver is paying attention, according to a recently published study.

Crashes caused by distracted driving tend to be more severe than others, though the severity depends on the setting where they occurred, according to a study by the Risk Institute at Ohio State University, according to the Washington Post.

  • Researchers found that if you drive while distracted, the chance that an accident will cause severe injury or death increases, compared with other crashes, especially if the distracted driver causes a rear-end collision or the accident occurs in a work zone or on an interstate highway.
  • Locations that force drivers to pay more attention, like rotaries, appear to have a lower chance of being the site of distraction-related crashes and have less severe crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 9% of all fatal vehicle accidents in 2016 were caused by distracted driving. The study analyzed 1.4 million police records from the state’s Department of Transportation concerning accidents that happened between 2013 and 2017. During that time, the number of distracted-driving-related accidents increased in Ohio, just as they did across the country.

The analysis estimates that 48% of accidents were related to in-vehicle distractions. It found that younger drivers (between 20 and 24 years old) cause the highest percentage of crashes as a result of distracted driving and other reasons.

In Pennsylvania, a driver can be ticketed and fined for texting while driving, but it’s not an offense to talk on a cell phone while driving. Sixteen states make it illegal for a driver to talk on a phone while holding it to their face (hands-free devices are allowed in these states, though studies have shown they don’t make driving safer); 38 states ban cell phone use by novice drivers; 21 states ban all cell phone use by school bus drivers; and 47 states (including Pennsylvania) make it illegal to text while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

These laws concern whether or not the driver can be ticketed or cited for a motor vehicle violation; they don’t reflect whether the driver’s negligence may make him liable under personal injury law. Though such a citation can be very helpful evidence in a civil case, at issue in cases where a vehicle accident victim seeks compensation from the responsible party is whether he or she acted negligently, causing an accident and the resulting injuries.

Given the widely known dangers of distracted driving, you’re clearly not using reasonable care when you’re chatting away on your phone, responding to a text or inputting an address on a GPS app while driving. Despite the increasingly distracting technologies we can busy ourselves with, the fact remains that you need to put your phone down and your gadgets away when you drive, both for your safety and that of others.

Have you been injured in a vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver? Talk to a knowledgeable lawyer at Wapner Newman in Philadelphia so we can talk about your situation, applicable laws and how to protect your legal rights to compensation. Your initial consultation will be free.