The Role of Distractions in Car Accidents: A Closer Look

By this point, we should all be aware that texting and driving is a major risk to your (and other’s) safety while on the road. However, any type of distracted driving can lead to car crashes that leave drivers and passengers seriously injured, or worse.

For a deeper understanding of the risks, continue reading below as we discuss what constitutes distracted driving and the devastating consequences of such behaviors.

What Is Considered “Distracted Driving”?

Again, texting while driving isn’t the only type of distraction that increases the risk of a crash. Any activity that diverts the driver’s eyes from the road, hands from the wheel, or mind from driving can be considered a distraction. This includes things such as:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating
  • Changing the radio
  • Using the navigation system
  • Talking with other passengers in the car

Safe driving can only occur when the person behind the wheel devotes their full attention to the road. Anything that detracts from this can lead to grave outcomes.

The Problem with Distracted Driving

Inherently, any non-driving activity you engage in while behind the wheel of a car can cause you to miss certain traffic cues, objects on the road, or lose control of your vehicle. In turn, this can lead to a crash that causes vehicle damage, injuries, or even wrongful death.

Think about when you’re driving on the highway going 60 miles per hour. If you look down at a text on your phone for just a few seconds, you’re essentially driving blind until you revert your eyes to the road. Depending on how long you’re distracted by your phone, this might mean you drove the full length of a football field blindly!

So, if the driver in front of you slams on their brakes, an animal is crossing the road, or road conditions suddenly change, you need ample time to respond to the hazard to avoid a crash. If your attention is not on the road, your ability to do so safely and effectively diminishes.

How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is a known and common cause of fatal car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), 3,522 people died in 2021 as the result of distracted driving. This statistic could even be higher, as it’s sometimes difficult for investigators to determine the cause of an accident depending on the circumstances of the crash.

Even less severe car accidents in Kent, like fender benders, are commonly caused by distracted driving. Specifically for teens, distracted driving is a known factor in 58% of crashes they’re involved in, as reported by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Final Takeaways

Despite the known hazards of distracted driving, many people report that they still engage in such activities, like texting while driving. More specifically, an AAA survey from 2022 shows that nearly all drivers, or 93%, believe that texting or emailing while driving is extremely dangerous. However, 37% also self-reported that they had read an email or text while driving within the previous month.

We are all guilty of distracted driving to some degree. Whether we’re admiring the scenery, responding to a text, or reaching for an object in the backseat while driving, each of these activities detracts from your attention to the road and can have serious consequences.

Each time you get behind the wheel, remind yourself of the risk of distracted driving. Whatever non-driving activity you’re tempted by, know that it can wait until you’ve reached your destination safely.