Driver Distraction is an Increasingly Common Cause of Auto Accidents

We’ve all done it. We’re driving down the road and the cell phone rings, or a song we don’t like comes on the radio, or we drop a ketchup-covered French fry into our laps. We take our eyes off the road for a split second–and in that split second, we’re involved in an auto accident.

Even when an auto accident is caused by some other factor such as alcohol or drug impairment, following too closely, or excessive speed, driver distraction probably contributed. Distractions come from many sources both inside and outside a vehicle, and it’s almost impossible to not become distracted while driving.

The Dangers of Distracted Drivers

More than 70 percent of driver distractions come from inside the car. Children and pets move around. Passengers talk. The driver is eating or talking on the phone, or even putting on makeup. Thoughts wander, or sleepiness can overtake the driver.

The other 30 percent of distractions come from outside the vehicle: an animal runs into the road, the driver “rubber necks” another accident, or something as simple as a “For Sale” sign catches the driver’s attention.

Distracted drivers are 50 percent more likely to be seriously injured or killed when involved in an auto crash. Almost three-quarters of auto accidents that are at least partially attributed to driver inattention were single-vehicle crashes or rear end collisions. Rear-ending auto accidents happen when the driver’s attention wanders away for only a moment.

Young drivers and drivers older than 70 years old tend to become distracted much more easily, and contribute to a majority of auto accidents due to distracted driving. Up to 15 percent of young drivers involved in an auto accident admitted to being distracted at the time of the accident.

Maintaining alertness and avoiding distractions while driving can greatly decrease your chances of becoming involved in an accident. Distractions eliminate your ability to react quickly to adverse road conditions and effectively practice defensive driving techniques.

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