By: Donna Devita
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Law enforcement officers across Connecticut are fed-up with distracted drivers. Causing hundreds of unnecessary deaths a year and thousands of injuries, every resident in the state is at risk of becoming a victim of a distracted driving accident and police are working hard to reduce the risks.
CT Police Are Hunting Distracted Drivers
Starting at the beginning of this month, dozens of police departments in Connecticut reported an increase in patrol cars on the streets to help crack down on distracted driving. Drivers who are seen participating in distractive behaviors by officers will be pulled over and ticketed for endangering the lives of the public- and these penalties won’t be light:
- First Offense: $150 fine
- Second Offense: $300 fine
- Third Offense: $500 fine
In 2015, there were at least 7472 distracted driving accidents in the state, according to an article published by UConn Today. Some of these accidents caused serious injuries and permanent disabilities, while the worst resulted in tragic fatalities, ruining the lives of individuals and families.
Distracted Driving Kills Nine People…Every Day
Just this past May, a 19-year-old boy from Sandy Hook was charged with distracted driving and negligent homicide after he struck and killed another driver who was pulled over on the side of the road on I-84. The police report stated that the boy became ‘distracted’ when driving, causing his car to veer onto the shoulder where he fatally collided with the other driver.
Distracted drivers are not just causing fender benders and minor vehicle damage. Drivers who are not paying attention to the road are taking the lives of unsuspected motorists and passengers every day. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,450 deaths in 2016 were caused by distracted driving accidents, averaging to about nine people who die a day in the United States from mostly preventable and unnecessary crashes.
Distracted Drivers Injure Hundreds of Thousands a Year
In 2015, at least 391,000 injuries were reported as a result of distracted driving accidents, according to the NHSTA. Injuries from these types of accidents can range from minor scrapes to permanent disabilities, the most common including:
- Neck Injuries (whiplash, strains, sprains, pressure on ligaments, herniated disc’s)
- Leg and Neck Injuries (cuts, bruises, broken bones, tears, dislocations)
- Broken Bones and Fractures
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
Aside from immediate injuries, there are several delayed symptoms that can show up days after a car accident that can be signs of severe health conditions, possibly fatal if ignored. Seven of the most commonly delayed injury symptoms reported by KTAR.NEWS include:
- stiffness or pain in the shoulder or neck
- back pain
- swelling or pain in the abdomen
- personality changes
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Cell Phones Are the Worst
It’s not hard to believe that cell phones are causing most of the distracted driving accidents in our country but it’s hard to prove how bad the problem really is due to inadequate data collection. Whether a driver is texting, talking, live-streaming, taking photos/videos, or searching for music, cell phones are taking driver’s eyes off the road long enough to cause fatal crashes. Texting, for instance, takes a driver’s attention off the road for approximately five seconds, according to the NHSTA. But if a vehicle is moving at 55 mph, a driver can travel the length of a football field before they look back at the road.
The National Safety Council (NSC) highlights some of the reasons for why cell phone accident data is lacking when it comes to distracted driving statistics:
- Police are relying on driver’s admittance of cell phone use.
- Drivers are not forthcoming about using cell phones while driving, especially in the case of an accident.
- The memories and statements of accident witnesses are not always accurate.
- Accidents are not being fully investigated for cell phone use if a more obvious violation is noted (drug use, speeding, etc.)
- Police reports are not always updated with information gathered after the accident such as the contributing factor of cell phone use.
- Cell phone records can be difficult to obtain from companies.
- Cell phone data mush align directly with the time of the accident which it may not if the user was just glancing or scrolling on the phone looking at content.
The NHSTA predicts around 481,000 passenger vehicles on the road are operated by people using cell phones. Bristol, Connecticut is one of the communities adopting NHTSA’s national campaign “U Drive U Text U Pay” to bring more local awareness to this epidemic in attempts to reduce the number of drivers using cell phones on local roads. By starting a conversation about the imminent dangers of this trend, officials are hoping the campaign will cause drivers to think twice before reaching for the phone when behind the wheel.
Other Types of Distracted Driving
Not all distracted driving accidents are caused by drivers using cell phones. There are plenty of other reasons for why drivers may take their attention off the roads that are just as deadly:
- General Daydreaming: In 2014, SafeSmart reported that 62% of all fatal vehicle accidents at the time were caused by general daydreaming and distractions. This used to be the most commonly reported cause of distracted driving, but the upgrades in technology and assumption that drivers are not forthcoming about using their phones has reduced the estimated amount of accidents caused by this behavior.
- Electronic Usage: GPS’s, tablets, laptops, radios, Bluetooth devices, and radio screens can all assist in distracting drivers from the road. According to the NHTSA, an estimated 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving during the day. Some drivers have even been reported looking so closely at their navigation devices that they are driving into bodies of water they would have seen if they were looking ahead.
- Passenger Distractions: Friends and other passengers can be a huge distraction for drivers, especially when it comes to teen drivers. Talking loudly, playing music, or asking the driver to look away from the road can all cause serious accidents if the driver is not paying attention.
- Personal Behaviors: Eating, drinking, smoking, or putting on makeup are common harmful behaviors that could cause us to get into an accident. Our reaction times are much slower when one or both our hands are occupied by something other than the steering wheel.
- Distractions In the Car: Drivers reaching for items on the floor, between the seats, and in the back seat could not only take their eyes off the road but accidentally turn the wheel, hit the brake, or dangerously accelerate out of the control.
Don’t Believe in Multi-Tasking!
If you think you are multitasking in the car by doing anything else while you are driving…you’re mistaken. Multitasking is a myth that most of us have convinced ourselves is a skill.
The American Psychological Association (APA) revealed astonishing research on multitasking that proves it is ineffective and inefficient. APA states participating in two complex tasks at a time, such as talking on the phone and driving, is splitting our productivity 50/50 between each task, focusing only partially on each and clouding our judgment. Instead of performing two tasks at the same time, we end up poorly performing two tasks at the same time, giving neither one the attention they really require.
Pay Attention CT!
Distracted driving accidents are 100% preventable if drivers would stop taking their attention off the roads for other minimal tasks. There is nothing worth the risk of taking someone’s life that could constitute distracted driving habits. With so many police officers out there fighting back against these unnecessary accidents, Connecticut residents better be prepared to pay attention or pay the price.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, you could be eligible for compensation for any damages sustained. As Connecticut personal injury experts, we always have your best interests and safety in mind. Our aggressive attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace will help you fight back by providing a free case evaluation to explore all your options for seeking justice against reckless distracted drivers.