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The Dangers of Distracted Driving

April 2012

Casey was a bright, lovable college student who had just turned 21. Her story is not about driving drunk. Actually, Casey wasn’t even driving when she died, and she wasn’t hit by a drunk driver, either. Casey was on a walk when a distracted driver hit her, ending her life. The driver stated "I only took my eyes off the road for a second."

Too often those words are uttered to family members who have just lost a loved one. In 2009, an astonishing 5,474 people were killed by distracted drivers, while another estimated 448,000 sustained injuries according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That means twenty percent of the accidents in the U.S. in 2009 involved distracted drivers.

What is "Distracted" Driving?

Distracted driving is defined as anything that redirects the driver’s focus from driving. A driver should be focused on driving the entire time the car is in motion. Distractions are a danger to everyone in the vehicle and everyone outside the vehicle. The causes of distractions can include:

  • Talking to passengers
  • Eating or drinking
  • Adjusting the radio or changing CDs
  • Grooming
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Texting
  • Reading
  • Watching a video

Even reading a map or using a GPS system is a distraction taking your full attention from the task of driving.

Startling Information

A Carnegie Mellon University study found that talking on a cell phone while driving uses 37% of the brain power necessary to concentrate on driving. This was after a University of Utah study equated using a cell phone while driving with having a .08 percent blood alcohol level.

In a study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, it was determined that texting causes drivers to divert their attention from the road an average of 4.6 seconds per message (sending or receiving). That is the same as driving the entire length of a football field at 55 mph while blind.

What You Can Do

  1. Turn It Off Before Turning the Key.
    An alternative is to give the phone to your passenger and ask them to answer any calls.
  2. Be Prepared.
    Review directions before your trip, and either eat ahead or plan to stop for meals.
  3. Pull Over.
    If you have to read a map, call for directions or handle an issue with the kids, pull over to the side of the road.

If you or someone you love has been killed or injured by a distracted driver, our Minnesota car accident lawyers at the law firm of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben can help you. We have over 40 years of experience helping victims of car accidents and their families. Call us at 612-377-7777 or 1-800-752-4265 (toll free) for a free consultation.

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