Distracted driving really is an epidemic in the United States. Even as drunk driving slowly declines after decades of education and pushback, more and more people are getting in accidents because they simply are not paying attention to the road.
You likely see examples of distracted driving almost every day. How often have you looked over and seen someone on their phone at a stoplight? Maybe a driver passed you while trying to eat lunch. Perhaps you watched a car drift onto the shoulder and then suddenly correct back into the lane because the driver was trying to type in a new address on the GPS.
These things happen far too often. They lead to catastrophic injuries. They take lives. It's time to really break it down so that everyone can understand the risks and work toward safer driving practices.
The roads are getting more dangerous
More than anything else, the fact that the risks are getting worse underscores the need for change. The latest data out so far is for 2016, and it shows that 37,461 people died in car accidents that year. With all of the emphasis on safety-related technology, one would think that the roads would get safer every year, but the opposite actually happened. The 2016 numbers were 5.6 percent higher than the 2015 numbers.
That's not to say that distracted driving caused this increase on its own. However, it is absolutely one of the main contributing factors. The roads have gotten safer in other ways, but distracted driving helps to wash out those gains.
Specific distracted driving statistics
To see what role distracted driving played in those deadly accidents, let's take a look at a few statistics that are specific to this type of accident.
- Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 15 percent of car accidents that result in injuries happen because of distracted driving.
- The NHTSA also says that about 10 percent of deadly accidents happen due to distracted driving. For instance, in 2015, a total of 391,000 people got injured in these accidents and 3,477 people died.
- Distraction is a huge issue for teen drivers, where it comes up more than it does for adults. For teens, about 58 percent of accidents stem from distracted driving.
Most telling of all, though, is the fact that most experts think distracted driving accidents wind up being extensively underreported. After all, if no one can prove it, a driver may deny that he or she was distracted -- texting and driving, perhaps -- to avoid blame. This means that, as daunting as these statistics are, they may all be far too low.
Did you get hit by a distracted driver? If you suffered serious injuries, you must know what legal rights you have to compensation.