Researchers Identify Biggest Distracted Driving Risks

The problem of distracted driving has become a common concern among law enforcement and motorists alike. Now, researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have identified the most dangerous culprits in distracted driving accidents and other factors that can increase a driver’s chances of a crash. The hope is that by determining the riskiest distractions, steps can be taken to make the roadways safer for everyone.

Some of the most notable distractions researchers discovered were dialing a cell phone or using the touchscreen on a vehicle dashboard. Both of these activities require drivers to take their eyes completely off the road, which is a major crash risk. These activities proved even more dangerous than some of the well-known driver distractions, including eating and applying makeup.

Emotions and car accidents

Emotions also played a role in vehicle crashes, with drivers that were sad, angry or crying facing 10 times the risk of an accident than those who drove without any distraction. Other risk factors that made the top of the list in this study included reading or writing, driving while fatigued and texting.

To come up with the results of this study, researchers used data from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study. This study is the largest of its kind, involving more than 3,500 participants at six collection sites across the U.S. More than 1,600 crashes were included in the data, ranging from minor curb strikes to accidents serious enough to file a police report.

Driver-related factors have huge impact

The researchers found that driver-related factors were involved in more than 90 percent of the higher severity crashes, which involved either property damage or injury. Drugs and alcohol made up the biggest risk, followed by mobile phone dialing, reading and writing, and intense emotions like sadness or anger. Reaching for an object rounded out the top five driver-related factors resulting in crashes. Other factors that were near the top of the list included interacting with others in the car, texting and browsing on a mobile device.

“These findings are important, because we see a younger population of drivers, particularly teens, who are more prone to engaging in distracting activities while driving, “ Tom Dingus, lead author of the study and director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, was quoted as saying by Science Daily. “Our analysis shows that if we take no steps in the near future to limit the number of distracting activities in a vehicle, those who represent the next generation of drivers will only continue to be at greater risk of a crash.”

While this study was unique in its ability to collect data with more precision than other research on car crashes, the results were similar in many ways to those found by other research. The Huffington Post reported last year that nine Americans are killed every single day by accidents involving distracted driving. There is a one-in-four probability every motor vehicle crash involved a cell phone. Those numbers make sense when considering that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of a crash four times.

Liability in distracted driving accidents

Victims of motor vehicle crashes where distracted driving was involved may be eligible for legal compensation under the law. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, the person responsible for the crash may be held liable for associated medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.

If you or someone you love is the victim of distracted driving, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact the offices of Hardy, Wolf & Downing today at 1-800-INJURED to get a free assessment with veteran Maine accident attorneys who leverage decades of success winning car accident and personal injury claims.