Apr 11, 2023
A report recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms that traffic accidents hit a 16-year high in 2021. Entitled the “Overview of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes in 2021,” the NHTSA’s report noted that over 42,000 people in the United States died in traffic collisions in 2021. As American car accident have increased in recent years, the NHTSA’s data points to a significant contributing factor – distracted diving.
At least 3,500 traffic-related deaths were due to impaired or distracted driving, according to the NHTSA’s report. However, the agency notes that the number is likely an underestimate because distracted driving is difficult to identify during crash investigations.
Distracted driving is a problem that “involves everyone,” as Psychology Today reported. However, young people are disproportionately at-fault, with 18 to 34-year-olds “more likely to die in distraction-affected crashes than any other age group,” according to NHTSA data.
Psychology Today offered evidence from additional distracted driving studies which tends to indicate that, although hands-free devices are legal and considered safe in most instances, distraction of any kind – particularly from cell phones – can lead to an increase in car accidents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that there are typically three ways people become distracted while driving:
“A 2018 systematic review found that any mode of conversation – whether using a handheld phone, a hands-free device, or conversing with a passenger in the car – led to a reduction in driving performance. The review, published in the journal Human Factors, included 93 studies with more than 4,300 participants,” Psychology Today reported.
Additionally, research on distracted driving confirmed:
Psychology Today noted one important takeaway from the sample of distracted driving research:
If you are planning to have a phone conversation while driving, dial before you begin your trip.
Furthermore, in 2022, researchers in China examined the effect of voice-activated, hands-free driving apps on youth drivers. Their findings include significantly weakened performances of young drivers in certain areas:
In terms of a solution to distracted driving, Psychology Today referenced a systematic review which found that mindfulness training may be helpful.
“Researchers analyzed 17 studies that looked at whether having a mindful mentality improved driving behavior, and whether specific mindfulness interventions could help. They found that when a driver’s mind wanders, they are more likely to overlook hazards, make mistakes, and increase their risks of having a collision. They found some limited evidence that mindfulness exercises before or while driving, such as taking slow deep breaths, may help drivers stay focused and avoid using mobile or hands-free devices while driving. More research is needed to ensure that these strategies actually work,” Psychology Today said.
Ultimately, the data on distracted driving seems to confirm that taking your mind off of the road for any reason increases your chances of making a mistake and being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
“The best strategy to avoid distracted driving is to make a concerted effort to stay in the moment and pay attention to your surroundings,” Psychology Today said.
While texting and driving is one of the most dangerous and common forms of the behavior, additional ways people tend to be involved in such car accidents include:
Recent statistics on distracted driving, updated for 2023, include:
If were injured in a car accident by someone else’s negligence – including a distracted driving crash – you may be eligible to recover a cash settlement for damages.
Examples of damages that may be obtained in a car accident civil lawsuit include:
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