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Distracted driving accidents – They can happen to you

August 30, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Our Michigan personal injury attorneys answer FAQs about distracted driving and texting while driving – that you may not realize could put you in danger

We’re entering week two of our sweepstakes to help bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of good auto insurance. If you visit Michigan Auto Law’s Facebook page, you can enter to win a $1,032 check. Our personal injury attorneys hope the winner will use the check to buy auto insurance for a year.

As I’ve said before, distracted driving is the culprit behind far too many preventable car accidents. These days, Michigan drivers engage is so much distracted driving behavior, that they may not even realize they’re putting themselves – and others – in danger. For a lot of people, talking on the phone and driving go hand and hand. Or they’re so pressed for time that eat breakfast in the car on the way to work. Last week I again saw someone on an iPad behind the wheel!

Here are some common questions our Michigan personal injury attorneys usually get asked. Thanks to Distraction.gov for the helpful statistics.

Q. What Is Distracted Driving?

A. Distracted driving is defined as any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of a car accident or truck accident.

Q. Are there different types of distracted driving?

A. Yes, there are three main types of distracted driving.
o Visual — taking your eyes off the road.
o Manual — taking your hands off the wheel.
o Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing.

Q. What is the worst type of distracted driving?
A. All distractions can endanger a driver’s safety, but texting while driving is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction. You take your eyes off the road to look down at your phone, you take your hands off the wheel to type the text and you take your mind off of driving to think about your message and the actions it takes to complete it.

Q. What are some common distracted driving activities?
A. Other distracting activities include:
o Using a cell phone,
o Eating and drinking
o Talking to passengers,
o Grooming and applying makeup,
o Reading (including maps),
o Using a PDA or navigation system,
o Watching a video,
o Using the Internet
o Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.

Q. How many car accidents are caused by distracted driving?
A. 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Q. How many people are injured and killed from distracted driving?
A. The numbers of people hurt and killed from distracted driving are staggering.

o Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction. That’s an 18 percent fatality rate for distraction-related crashes. (NHTSA)

o In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways. (FARS)

o Also in 2009, an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in auto accidents that were reported to have involved distracted driving. (GES)

Q. What age group is the most likely to drive while distracted?

A. The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group . In other words, 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)

Q. How much does distracted driving increase my chances of being in a car accident?

A.There are many facts that spell out how you’re more likely to crash when you are driving distracted.

o Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

o Drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be in a car accident. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)

o Using a cell phone use while driving — whether it’s hand-held or hands-free — delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)

Q. What can I do to help stop distracted driving?

A. There are several things to you can to do help stop this dangerous behavior and ensure safer Michigan driving conditions.

o Participate in the Michigan Auto Law distracted driving campaign: Again, you can visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MichiganAutoLaw, watch the video on distracted driving, and pass it on to your friends for the chance to win a $1,032 check. The prize is the average price to purchase good No-Fault auto insurance that includes uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM).

o Make a pledge to not drive distracted: This can be done with your family, friends and your children.

o Lead by example: If you are a parent, lead by example and do not get distracted when you’re behind the wheel. Parents can also enforce household rules that prohibit their teens from texting while driving, among other distracted driving behaviors.

o Prepare for your ride: If you’re prepared, a lot of the distracted driving activities can be eliminated. Eat before you get in the car, plug your iPod in (on shuffle mode) before you start the car, know your directions before you leave the house, etc.

o Pull over to send that text: If you must send a text, make sure you pull over into a safe, well-lit area away from traffic before you do so.

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