Drunk drivers aren't the only dangers on the road. Distracted drivers are a major threat to motorists. According to the U.S. Department of Transporting, in 2014 distracted drivers were responsible for 10 percent of all fatal car accidents and 18 percent of all accidents resulting in injury. When head out on Green Bay roadways this summer, are you prepared? Find out who is doing it and what you can do to stay safe.
What are the most common distractions?
Many point the finger at cell-phone use, and while that is a major factor, it is not the only culprit in this epidemic. According to distraction.gov, the official government website devoted to this matter, "distracted driving" can include anything from eating and adjusting the radio, to grooming and talking to other passengers, in addition to using a cell phone.
How widespread is the problem and who is doing it?
Just how big of a problem is this? A recent National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) found that at any one moment of the day, there are approximately 660,000 people using their mobile devices while driving! This number may be conservative. How often do you see someone looking down at their phone while out on the road?
Fingers often point at the younger generations. Drivers aged 20-29 do have the largest percentage of distracted drivers by a large margin at 29%, but each age group from 30 to 60 all contribute a higher percentage of distracted drivers than those aged 15-19. No one generation is free of blame.
Distracted driving consistently takes the lives of roughly 3,000 people and injures nearly half a million others, every year. This is roughly double the rate of injuries associated with drunk driving, but while driving under the influence is still a leading cause of traffic fatalities and should continue to receive a great deal of attention and education, those 660,000 distracted drivers arealways on the road. The number has remained constant in recent years, but as the "technology" generations continue to occupy more of the road, it will begin to clime rapidly.
How Green Bay is dealing with distracted drivers
Many municipalities have responded by banning cell-phone use while driving in an effort to combat the dilemma, however others, including Green Bay, are moving a bit slower to respond. Legislators passed a bill in March that will affect all citizens of the city and state, imposing a $40 fine for using cell phones in construction zones. No all-out ban has been issued, but there is no denying that distracted driving is impaired driving.
How to stay safe from distracted drivers
There is no way to completely protect yourself from a distracted driver, but there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting to your destination safely.
Be aware -- The best way to protect yourself from distracted drivers is to be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to who has their eyes on the road and who is repeatedly looking downwards. Steer clear of anyone you see using a cell phone while driving.
Maintain a cushion of safety -- Rear-end collisions are the most common type of distracted driving accident. Often the greatest danger will come from behind. By being aware and maintaining your own cushion of safety you will be better able to get out of harms way when it comes your way.
Put your cell phone down -- It is natural to think of yourself as the best driver on the road or a talented multi-tasker. It can also be hard to ignore your cell phone when you see it flash with a new message coming in. Resist the urge to pick it up. The easiest way to avoid a distracted driver is to avoid becoming one yourself.
In the event that you are injured in a car accident, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after receiving medical attention. Even when they seem minor, injuries can be disabling. By talking with an attorney early, you can make sure you are well positioned to file a claim if you need to do it.