Posted by Bruce Plaxen on 09/18/2023

What Kinds of Accidents Are Caused by Distracted Drivers?

What Kinds of Accidents Are Caused by Distracted Drivers?

Distracted driving has emerged as a prevalent and dangerous issue on our roads today, posing a serious threat to public safety. The rise of smartphones and other technological advancements has amplified the problem, leading to an alarming increase in accidents caused by distracted drivers. Understanding the various types of accidents resulting from distracted driving is so important, not only for legal professionals but for all drivers.

At some point, we may all be guilty of driving while distracted without even realizing it. The first example everyone thinks of is texting while driving. While it is proven to be deadly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says distracted driving is when the driver’s attention is focused on any activity that takes away even a portion of their focus from driving.

The four main types of distracted driving

If you aren’t aware that something you are doing is dangerous, then you probably will never change your habits. In order to help prevent car accidents, it is important to understand the four types of distracted driving:

  • Visual distraction: This occurs when drivers divert their eyes from the road, extending beyond phone use. Activities like following GPS directions or sightseeing while driving can be visually distracting and increase the risk of accidents. Assigning tasks such as checking the phone or capturing scenic views to a passenger promotes safer driving by allowing the driver to maintain their focus on the road.
  • Manual distraction: This occurs when drivers remove one or both hands from the steering wheel. Engaging in activities like eating while driving or applying makeup at red lights can be tempting but unsafe. It is important to prioritize safety by waiting until reaching your destination to take a bite or freshen up. Regardless of being stopped or in motion, it is crucial to keep attention focused on the road.
  • Audible distraction: This occurs when sounds divert your attention from driving. While listening to music or podcasts can be enjoyable, excessively high volume can become a significant distraction. Lowering the volume while driving, especially through unfamiliar areas, can actually help maintain your concentration.
  • Cognitive distraction: This occurs when your mind is not solely focused on driving. Distractions like thinking about a bad day at work or being consumed by emotions can hinder concentration. Even hands-free phone conversations can divert attention and delay reaction times, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Types of accidents caused by distracted driving

Maintaining complete focus on the road while driving should always be your top priority. Any diversion, such as checking your phone or talking with a passenger, actually qualifies as distracted driving. Even though it may appear that a momentary shift of attention away from the road couldn't lead to a fatal accident, statistics from the NHTSA paint a grim reality. Between 2012 and 2021, over 32,000 lives were lost in accidents involving drivers who were distracted.

When it comes to the type of accidents responsible, there are a few that regularly occur:

Rear-end collisions

When one vehicle strikes the back of another, we call that a rear-end accident and they can happen when a driver simply isn’t paying attention to the road in front of them. Texting or using a cell phone while driving tends to be the primary culprit, as it significantly impairs reaction time which increases the risk of rear-end collisions. However, other distractions such as eating or drinking, talking with passengers, and changing the radio station inside the car can all contribute to these accidents.

Intersection accidents

This happens when two or more vehicles collide at a traffic intersection. Distractions can lead to a failure to yield or stop at intersections, whether it’s a red light or a stop sign, which can cause accidents as drivers fail to promptly react. Additionally, pedestrians can get caught in the crossfire. If a driver is distracted, they may not see someone attempting to cross the street. Without having enough time to react, they could potentially hit the pedestrian and cause them serious injuries.

Lane departure and sideswipe accidents

Lane departure and sideswipe accidents are incidents where a vehicle drifts out of its designated lane or makes contact with another vehicle in an adjacent lane. Lane departure accidents occur when a driver fails to maintain proper lane positioning, while sideswipe accidents involve a glancing collision between two vehicles traveling alongside each other. These accidents are often influenced by driver distractions that divert attention from the task of driving. When your eyes are off the road even for a second, it is harder to maintain perfect control within your designated lane.

Head-on collisions

Head-on collisions, one of the most devastating types of accidents, can also occur due to distracted driving. When a driver's attention becomes scattered and drifts away from the duty of diligently observing the road, the consequences can be deadly. This can result in the driver unintentionally crossing into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision. The sheer magnitude of the devastation that ensues from these collisions serves as a grim reminder that there are serious consequences to driving while distracted.

If you were involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced car accident attorney. You deserve to be compensated for your losses and a car accident attorney can help you reach that goal.

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