Insurer compiles list of top 10 distractions for drivers
For as long as cars have been on the road, drivers have been plagued by distractions – and motorists here in Austin are no exception. Sadly, according to statistics recently reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an alarming 3,331 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers in 2011 – with 387,000 more injured. Also, 17 percent of all injury-causing accidents were reported as “distraction-effected” accidents during the same period.
In an effort to get to the root of this problem – in addition to encouraging motorists to avoid driver distractions – the insurer known as Erie Insurance recently put together a list of the top 10 driver distractions in fatal car accidents.
Specifically, the company reviewed police report information in the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which is a compilation of data pertaining to deadly car accidents. Interestingly, it was discovered that in the majority of instances – 62 percent – police simply attributed fatal car accidents to “general” nonspecific distractions. In fact, the top 10 distractions involved in deadly car accidents include:
- Drivers generally distracted or “lost in thought”
- Drivers distracted by cellphone use such as texting
- Drivers distracted by something outside the car (rubbernecking)
- Drivers distracted by occupants in the car
- Drivers distracted by drinking or eating
- Drivers distracted by adjusting radio or temperature controls
- Drivers distracted when reaching for a device inside the car, such as a GPS
- Drivers distracted by smoking
- Drivers distracted by something in the vehicle, such as a fly or pet
- Drivers distracted by various vehicle controls, such as adjusting mirrors or seats
Although many of these distractions can simply be attributed to driver inattention or carelessness, one in particular is also often prohibited by law: texting while driving. In fact, the City of Austin has an ordinance that bars drivers from using their cellphones to read, write or send text messages.
However, drivers engaging in this dangerous activity not only face possible tickets, but also legal liability in Texas civil court if their texting-while-driving practices result in an injury-causing car accident. For example, the victim injured in such an accident can attempt to hold the texting driver responsible for damages, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Consequently, if you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, it is often best to speak with a knowledgeable car accident injury attorney to learn what your rights and options may be in your particular circumstances.