The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest statistics reported 3,142 fatalities were caused by distracted driving auto accidents throughout the U.S. in a single year.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that nine people in the United States are killed every day in crashes involving a distracted driver.
The same CDC report listed 1 in 5 of the people who were killed in vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver were not in vehicles at all. They were pedestrians, bicyclists, or otherwise outside a vehicle.
The number of vehicle collisions, injuries, and fatalities across the country and throughout Texas has led to April being designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Our Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys distracted driving accident and injury attorneys are joining the campaign to raise awareness to help keep our Texas roads safe for all motorists.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the physical act of driving.
Some of the most common forms of distracted driving include:
- Talking or texting on cellphones
- Eating and drinking
- Interacting with passengers
- Operating the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system in the vehicle
- Daydreaming or taking your mind off driving
Texas drivers must understand they cannot drive safely unless their full attention is on the task of driving.
Any non-driving activity drivers engage in is a potential distraction and increases the risk of crashing, which can cause significant injuries and wrongful deaths.
Distracted Driving Statistics Over Time
A study released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the NHTSA found that almost 80% of crashes and 65% of near crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds of the event.
Distracted driving accidents have gone from approximately 900,000 crashes claiming 2,993 lives in 2010 to 986,000 crashes and 3,142 deaths in 2020 making the dangerous behavior a steady contributor to traffic crashes across the country, accounting for between 14% to 17% of all crashes annually in the U.S.
Distracted Driving Risk Factors
The key risk factor for fatal distracted driving crashes is the age of the driver, with the highest rates occurring among adults ages 20-29. Drivers 15-19 were responsible for just 9% of fatal distracted driving crashes across the county.
Another prominent risk factor for distracted driving crashes is the number of passengers in the vehicle.
A national study showed that fatal crashes were 21% lower when teen drivers had zero passengers present, and 7% lower when only one passenger was allowed.
What are the Distracted Driving Laws in Texas?
The Texas Department of Transportation reports that texting while driving is illegal everywhere throughout the state.
While cellphone laws may change from city to city in Texas, state laws include:
- Drivers cannot send or receive electronic messages while driving in Texas
- Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using handheld devices
- Drivers with learner’s permits are prohibited from using cellphones in the first six months of driving
- Using any handheld device in your vehicle in a school zone is illegal
TxDOT’s annual Talk. Text. Crash. campaign was created as a crucial call-to-action encouraging drivers to keep their heads up and pay attention when behind the wheel.
Distracted Driving Impact on Insurance Rates
The Center for Policy and Research reported that distracted driving has caused insurance premiums to increase by 16% since 2011 across the nation.
Distracted Driving Prevention
Beginning in 2017, Texas required all new drivers over the age of 18 to take a course on distracted driving supplied by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
However, adults can help guide younger drivers to use safer driving habits when leading by example.
That may include:
- Setting all vehicle systems, including mirrors, navigation, and hands-free connections before putting the car in drive
- Placing cellphones on “do not disturb” mode while driving
- Limiting the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle
- Not eating, drinking, or smoking while driving
- Properly securing kids, pets, and belongings to avoid movement in the vehicle
- Speaking up as a passenger when the driver is distracted and help reduce the behavior by assisting with navigation or other tasks.
- Parents talking with teen drivers and young adults about the dangers of distracted driving, and set consequences for the behavior
- Employers reminding commercial vehicle drivers of their safety obligations and the laws against cellphone use while driving through continued education and presentations
Even when responsible drivers do all they can to avoid distractions inside their vehicles, there is little they can do about other drivers who are driving while distracted. While we hope you never need us, if you have been injured or tragically lost a loved one in a crash with a distracted driver, we can help.
Contact Our Skilled Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys in Austin at Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys Today
If you have been hurt in an accident caused by negligence, including distracted driving, call our skilled Austin car accident and injury attorneys at Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys at (512) 883-0277 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.