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Car Insurance

A Blog About Driving and Car Insurance in the USA

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Driving Distracted Can Affect the Lives of Others

Driving Distracted
Driving Distracted
With the rush-rush-rush mentality most people have these days, it's no surprise that more and more people are driving while distracted. Eating, talking or texting on a mobile phone, making adjustments to the radio, talking with passengers -- all take a driver's focus off of the road. Driver inattention is a leading factor in many crashes. I'd like to share a couple of stories with you, so that you'll be a little more aware of how driving while distracted can affect the lives of others. If this prevents one accident, it will be worth it to me.

In May of 2002, my aunt Sandra was coming home from a late shift at the local convenience store. It was a little before 7 in the morning, and all she wanted was to get home, take a hot shower, grab a bite to eat, and get some sleep. Suddenly, her car was hit head-on at nearly 60 miles per hour. She was killed instantly. Her car was hit with such force that the transmission was nearly in the back seat. The other driver was in intensive care for two weeks, and when he finally left the hospital there were careless driving charges waiting for him. He admitted that he'd been on the phone, arguing with his wife, when the accident happened. The state of Georgia suspended his license for six months, and that's it.

My uncle was both grief-stricken and furious. How could the other driver's only punishment for causing a fatality be losing his license for six months? He refused to let it stand, and brought a civil suit against the other driver. My uncle prevailed in court, and was awarded a judgment of $550,000. To date, he has collected less than $25,000 of that money.

Distracted drivers cause more than 26% of all traffic fatalities. Here are some other important facts on driving while distracted:

  • Distracted driving is the #1 killer of American teens. While alcohol-related crashes among teens have dropped, the number of teen-related traffic fatalities remains unchanged, because distracted driving is on the rise. (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Study and NHTSA study)
  • According to a national survey of teen drivers, over 90% say that they don't drink and drive. However, that same nine out of 10 say they've seen passengers distracting the driver, or witnessed a driver talking on the phone.
  • Brain power used while driving decreases by 40% when a driver listens to conversation or music.(Carnegie-Mellon University study)
  • More than 80% of drivers admit to hazardous behavior such as steering with their feet or knees, shaving, applying make-up, or changing clothes while driving. (Nationwide Mutual Insurance survey)
  • Driving distracted can slow reaction time as much as, if not more than, being drunk. A University of Utah study reports that a driver on a cell phone is just as impaired as a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 (the legal limit in most states).
  • Over the past few years, almost every state has passed some sort of legislation against distracted driving. New Jersey is considering a law that would mandate the same penalty for cell phone use as they would for a drunk driver that caused a fatal crash.

Of course nothing will bring my aunt back, but if these tougher laws can prevent one more family from going through the pain that my family has experienced, I'm all for it.

While not as traumatic as my uncle's story, I have also had a run-in with a distracted driver. About two months ago, I was in a grocery store parking lot when my car was hit in the driver's side door by a man who was backing up. Thankfully I wasn't hurt, but my car was damaged pretty badly. He obviously wasn't paying attention to his driving, and I believe it was because of text messaging, because after I called the police, he was texting back and forth the whole time -- even AFTER the officers arrived! The officer asked him if he'd been texting while driving. I'm not sure why he would admit to text messaging while he was driving. I believe he was just nervous, and blurted it out without thinking. I was livid, but rather than get angry at him I decided to let the insurance companies handle it. As it turns out, that was a mistake. The other driver didn't have insurance! I found out through a letter from his insurance company that he'd let his coverage lapse. My husband and I paid $700 out of our own pockets for the repairs, because we didn't have uninsured motorist coverage. We definitely do now, though.

Distracted drivers contribute to tens of thousands of crashes, and thousands of fatalities each year. Many of these accidents, including the one that took my aunt's life, could have been avoided if the driver had given their undivided attention to the road. E-mail, text messaging, that phone call, changing the station on the radio- that can all wait until the next time you stop. Please, for your own safety and that of the motorists around you, pay attention to the road, and drive safely.

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Blogger underwriter said...

Sorry to hear about your aunt, Amanda.

One of my friends was in two car accidents that involved cell phones in LA too. Neither of them was his fault as he was not the one on a cell phone while driving a car.

Several studies show cell phones are a leading cause of many car crashes. It is estimated that cell phone distracted drivers are four times more likely to be in a car wreck. And according to a Harvard University study, cell phones cause over 200 deaths and half a million injuries each year.

Nowadays, seeing car accidents on the news is just normal for me. Is this good or bad?

Friday, April 10, 2009 6:03:00 AM  
Blogger Steve Brown said...

Driving and talking on a cell is an extremely arrogant, irresponsible and selfish act. When a distracted driver gets into an accident, it's usually someone else who pays the price.

Friday, April 10, 2009 1:03:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Cell phones should not be used unless the car is equipped with a system by which it's handsfree. Not only does holding a cellphone keep one hand off the wheel, but to dial or to find it when it rings is far more distracting. Otherwise I'm not sure what the difference between that and a conversation happening in the car by your passenger.

Listening to music, which was mentioned in the article, does have an upside. It can help someone stay awake on long, lonely trips which does help to keep the driver alert.

Texting, eating, drinking, putting on makeup are very dangerous indeed.

Interesting article, and yes, distracted driving very much does affect not only people in the car, but the people that they may injure outside as well.

Saturday, April 11, 2009 3:47:00 PM  
Blogger Shabnam Sultan said...

Very informative article on how driving distracted can affect the lives of others. Everyone should learn a lesson and avoid using a cell phone while driving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 7:08:00 AM  
Blogger Steve Brown said...

> Cell phones should not be used
> unless the car is equipped
> with a system by which it's
> handsfree...

Using a hands-free phone system while driving is just as distracting as using a handheld cell phone.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous La Insurance Information Online said...

The factors related distractions while driving is getting very relevant in these days of society. with all the technology being implemented within everyday life , such GPS, cell phone ipods , etc.

Friday, May 08, 2009 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Nathan @ Car Insurance Scoop said...

There are definately way more things distracting drivers these days, between phones, GPS, cd players, radio, not to mention other people, especially the little people in the back.

It disturbs me to see so many people driving while on their cell phone, considering how many people are dying on our roads.

Sunday, June 28, 2009 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous julius pilijevas said...

Your doing a great job on your blog. I am starting out my own blog on car insurance http://americaninsuranceblog.blogspot.com/ it would appreciate it if you visited. thanks.

Sunday, July 05, 2009 8:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Car Insurance tips said...

No doubt if distracted you will have to get ready for an accident.

Friday, August 14, 2009 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Auto Insurance said...

Yes talking over the cellphone even with a hands free should be stopped.The distraction caused is too much to maintain attentiveness while driving which leads to even losing lives.

Friday, September 11, 2009 2:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Garry said...

That was an Excellent articles, thanks for providing useful information on driving safety.

Following the driving safety rules will helps to keep their lives safe and secure.

Thank U.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 5:36:00 AM  
Anonymous akiko honda said...

i agree with the above comments...if you were driving and not focused you are more prone to accidents..so set aside all the things that can distract you and focused..by the way nice blogs...i have related blog also..

Friday, October 23, 2009 1:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Oklahoma Drivers Education said...

Thanks for providing the useful article.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010 7:36:00 AM  
Anonymous La insurance Now said...

Canada has now implemented their no cell phone operating law ....and its amazing how many people completely ignore the dangers of talking on cell phones and driving at the same time...maybe they will learn when they get the hefty fine.

Monday, June 07, 2010 12:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Car Insurance said...

> Canada has now implemented their
> no cell phone operating law...

I'm surprised the Canadians waited so long to implement a no cell law.

Monday, June 07, 2010 6:46:00 PM  
Anonymous blackMARKER1 said...

I would also like to add to your list: LED Billboards. I'm not sure if these are becoming more common where you live, but these electronic annoyances are extremely distracting, especially in the night. There is no bigger annoyance than a large, flashing rectangle when you are trying to concentrate on the road.

Saturday, August 07, 2010 6:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about what happened to your aunt. but why don't people who are TALKING to those people say "hey are you talking and driving? put the phone down and don't get us sued".

Friday, September 17, 2010 8:41:00 PM  
Anonymous joel said...

Hi, this is a very high quality car insurance blog, as is evident by it's high ranking in google blog search. Your information on driver safety and accidents was extremely well written! Everyone should keep their mobile phones in their pocket when they drive! For further extra car insurance information and quotes please visit my website at www.car-insurance-quotes-here.com
Kind regards Joel

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 1:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear @ your aunt.I was in a 7-car accident in 2001 @ the mistake I made was letting my insurance take care of the legal aspects of the crash. The woman who hit me was asleep at the time. The distracted drivers should be held liable for their actions to the fullest extent possible.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:29:00 AM  

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