A major factor in automobile accidents today, is the increase in distracted driving. Distracted driving can be defined as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” The main types of distraction while driving include:
- Visual – taking eyes off the road
- Manual – taking hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – interrupting concentration needed to drive
In fact, several activities have proven to be extremely dangerous and increase the risk of an accident. These activities include using a cell phone, texting, and eating.
How large is this problem and what are the consequences of distracted driving? In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in accidents involving a distracted driver. In addition, 387,000 people were injured in car accidents that involved a distracted driver. This translates into 9 deaths per day, and over 1,000 injured throughout the United States due to accidents with a distracted driver involved.
Overwhelmingly, most states have some prohibition on using cell phones and texting while driving with only 4 states having no restriction (U.S. map above). Nevada has determined that cell phone use, and texting is a matter of primary enforcement, meaning you can be pulled over and cited for these activities alone, without any other infractions.
Texting in particular is most dangerous, because it involves all three types of distractions, visual, manual and cognitive. Sending or receiving a text message diverts a driver’s eyes from the road an average of 4.6 seconds. While that doesn’t sound like a long time, consider that at 55 mph you will drive the length of a football field in 4.6 seconds. If this is the average, then there are many times that a text exchange takes much longer than 4.6 seconds, and with almost any speed, especially in traffic, a lot can happen while not watching the road in a very short period of time. Just the act of reaching for a cell phone and dialing a number, increases the risk of car accident 3 times.
We at the Richard Harris Law Firm have supported measures and programs that educate and encourage the no-texting laws of our state. We have sponsored school programs for new drivers, called “I dnt txt n drive” which gave, “I dnt text n drive” bracelets to high school students. We have also highlighted the dangers of texting and driving through our “Students With A Cause” program, where students create video Public Service Announcements (PSA) on a particular theme each year in competition with other students throughout Las Vegas schools. Our second annual PSA Contest theme was “distracted driving.”