Drivers are using their cellphones during 58% of trips taken, an 8% increase from just 3 years ago. Just as alarming, the amount of time drivers are interacting with their phones while driving increase by 23% during that same time period. In 2020, drivers would interact with their phone while driving for 1 minute and 47 seconds. A recent report indicates that has now increased to 2 minutes and 12 seconds. Not surprisingly, all of this distracted driving is literally killing people. Accidents involving cars, bicycles and pedestrians are all up because distracted drivers are 2.4 times more likely to cause a crash. Read on for more scary statistics and tips to protect yourself.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released the 2021 report card for U.S. drivers. The quick summary: we are failing. Almost 43,000 people died in 2021 from car accidents, the highest death toll in 16 years, and more than 2.5 million people were injured, an increase of 9.4% from the prior year. Pedestrian deaths rose 13% and bicyclist deaths rose 2% . Accidents involving heavy or big trucks rose by 17% and the number of unbelted passengers increased by 8.1%.
Importantly, distracted driving is underreported as the cause of car accidents. Instead, law enforcement will often cite the cause as speeding, following too closely or some other act independent from the distracted driving. This is not a criticism of law enforcement. Distracted driving can be hard to prove especially when there is a fatality. Other causes such as following too closely in a rear-end accident are much easier to identify and prove.
To protect yourself and your family, here are some recommendations from us based on the car accidents we see on a daily basis:
- Wear your seatbelt. If you were not wearing your seatbelt, it does not mean that you do not have a case. (See this post that explains the law on seatbelt use in an injury case) However, the failure to wear your seatbelt significantly increases your chance of injury or death in a car accident.
- Slow down. According to the latest report from the NHTSA, speeding has risen 7.9%. Speeding affects both the time you have to react to changing road conditions and it also increases the severity of an accident.
- Put your phone down. Use widely available apps to limit distractions. For example, the Focus setting on an iPhone lets you limit notifications while driving or permit notifications only from certain people in the event of an emergency, etc. Set your navigation app before you leave. Use a playlist so that you are not fiddling with your phone to find the right song.
- “Leave Yourself an Out” is a way of defensive driving taught in Driver’s Ed classes around the country. In short, it means give yourself enough room to react to negative changes on the roadway. If traffic is bunched up, then slow down and get away from the group so that one person’s mistake does not involve you.
- If you have teen drivers, consider using apps to help monitor their driving behavior when you are not in the car with them. Popular apps are Life360, Drive Smart, DriveScribe. These apps can monitor driving metrics, score a teen’s driving, etc. Most importantly, model the driving behavior you want your child to use. If you are an aggressive driver who reaches for their phone while driving, your teen is learning all of the wrong things.
- Do not drive sleepy or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Both result in sluggish reaction time and poor judgment.
- Lastly, protect yourself with uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage. We have explained this a lot over the years and you can search for lengthy posts about it in the search bar, but the short summation is that this insurance is for you if you are injured by someone without insurance (a 1 in 5 chance in Tennessee) or you are injured by someone with not enough insurance. Talk to your agent. It is surprisingly affordable.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a car accident and would like to know your legal rights and options, give us a call. We offer a free initial consultation so you can understand your rights at zero cost. If we think we can help and you decide to hire us, we hire all car accident cases on a contingency-basis so we only get paid if we win. Getting started is easy. Just give us a call.
Toll-Free: 866-812-8787 (We handle accident cases across the State of Tennessee)