Distracted driving creates high risks for motorists

In the U.S., more than nine people are killed each day, and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in car accidents that involved a distracted driver; an additional 387,000 people were injured in similar accidents.

The CDC defines distracted driving as driving while also doing another activity. There are three basic types of distracted driving:

  • Manual: involves the driver taking his or her hands off of the wheel
  • Visual: involves the driver taking his or her eyes off of the road
  • Cognitive: involves the driver taking his or her mind away from fully focusing on driving

The NHTSA website on distracted driving reported that distractions endanger drivers, passengers and bystanders. The website includes the following actions as distracted driving: texting, using a cellphone or smartphone, reading, looking at maps and navigation systems, eating and drinking, watching a video or adjusting a radio.

Operating a cellphone is a dangerous distraction while driving

Of all the different types of distracted driving, driving while using a cellphone is one of the top distractions. In fact, according to the Connecticut Post, the NHTSA reports that nearly 660,000 drivers are talking on their cellphones at any given time in the U.S.

The NHTSA notes that texting and driving is the most alarming distraction because it requires manual, visual and cognitive attention to be taken away from driving.

In fact, according to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, sending or receiving a text message takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind at 55 mph. The VTTI study also reported that texting while driving creates an accident risk 23 times worse than driving without the distraction.

Device aimed to combat distracted driving

Some devices have been created that try to hinder distracted driving caused by talking and texting on a cellphone. The Connecticut Post reported on one such device created for a smartphone. After the driver shifts his or her gear into drive, the smartphone's screen turns into a picture of a winding road with the words "SafeRide" hovering over the image.

According to the Connecticut Post, when the driver's vehicle is in drive, pressing the home button or tapping the screen does not disable the program. The screen will remain locked and the audio will remain muted until the driver shifts the gear into park.

The program is said to be compatible with most mobile devices and consists of a two-and-a-half-inch by one-inch device that plugs into the cigarette lighter in the vehicle's console. Both the phone and the device are linked by Bluetooth technology. Phones that have the SafeRide program work normally when the owners are not driving. The program does not interfere with the cellphones of passengers.

Someone who has been injured by a distracted driver could benefit from contacting a personal injury car accident attorney who could help the injured receive compensation for damages by pursuing the injured person's claims vigorously.