Separating Facts from Myths during Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Posted in Distracted Driving on April 19, 2018

Distracted driving is a major safety epidemic on the nation’s roadways, and in response to the increasing dangers, the National Safety Council named April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Despite increased enforcement by police officers and state troopers, more and more people are being injured and even killed in distracted driving-related crashes every year in the U.S. In fact, car accident fatalities increased in 2017 by six percent compared to 2015, as more than 40,000 people lost their lives in vehicle crashes last year.

To help combat the problem, the NSC has published a list of common myths that many drivers believe about distracted driving. Those myths include:

Myth: High-tech entertainment systems aren’t distracted because they are included with many modern vehicles.

Fact: Almost all modern vehicles are now equipped with in-dash displays that give drivers and passengers information and visuals, including animated graphics, caller ID functions, GPS navigation, and more. Because those displays are becoming more and more common on all types of new vehicles, many drivers underestimate how distracting those devices can be. But it’s important to remember that taking your eyes off the road for any reason—including to look at your vehicle’s in-dash display—can increase your risks of being involved in an auto accident.

Myth: Some drivers are capable of successfully multitasking and can juggle multiple tasks at once while they’re behind the wheel.

Fact: Studies show that multitasking is a myth for the majority of people—especially when it comes to extremely important tasks like driving. When people multitask, their attention and focus become fractured, and they’re unable to devote their concentration to any of the tasks they’re engaged in. That means texting while driving, talking on the phone, changing directions on your GPS, or grooming all severely hamper your ability to drive safely and even keep your vehicle traveling in a straight line.

Myth: Hands-free devices make texting and talking on the phone risk-free.

 Fact: While using hands-free devices to send or receive text messages and talk on the phone is a safer alternative than a hands-on approach, it’s still dangerous. Studies indicate that drivers who use their cell phones even with hands-free operation are still distracted compared to drivers who are solely focused on driving. In addition, conversing via hands-free devices can cause drivers to miss up to 50 percent of sights in their surrounding environments, including pedestrians and red lights, even when their eyes are on the road and the area around their vehicles.

Myth: It’s okay to use your smartphone or other device at stop lights and stop signs.

Fact: Breaking the habit of using a smartphone while behind the wheel is difficult for many drivers. Some drivers may instead use their phones only when they’re stopped at red lights or intersections. However, studies show that using a smartphone at all when you’re behind the wheel—even when your vehicle is stopped—can still be distracting and can carry over to when you begin moving again. In fact, drivers may remain distracted for around 30 seconds after sending or receiving text messages while their vehicles were stopped.

Myth: Most crashes are caused by factors outside of drivers’ control.

Fact: The National Safety Council reports that 94-percent of all car accidents are caused by driver error. In recent years, one of the most significant causes of driver error is cell phone usage. In fact, around seven percent of all drivers on American roadways are using their cell phones at any given time. That equals around 660,000 distracted drivers—many of whom you may encounter during your daily commute to and from work or school. If all drivers put their cell phones down and use them only before and after their trips, Tennessee’s roadways would be much safer.

Myth: Some phone calls or text messages are important enough to accept while driving.

Fact: Our lives and careers are busier and more demanding than ever, and it’s important for many people to remain connected to their workplaces and their loved ones at all times. But no matter how busy you are, being distracted by your cell phone or in-dash display is never worth it while you’re on the road. Looking away from the road or shifting your concentration and focus away from driving even momentarily is all it takes to cause a serious accident. If you have to make a phone call, send a text, or respond to an email right away, pull over in a safe location first.

Myth: I’m safe from distracted driving risks if I don’t use my cell phone.

Fact: While many distracted driving awareness and enforcement campaigns focus on cell phone usage behind the wheel, there are many ways to become distracted when you’re behind the wheel. Eating, drinking, grooming, reading, or even having conversations with passengers can all be distracting in their own way. There are three types of distraction—visual, manual, and cognitive—and they can all significantly increase the risk of being involved in a crash. If anything takes your mind and focus off the road and your responsibility to drive safely, it can be considered a dangerous distraction.

Myth: Everyone drives while distracted occasionally, so it can’t be that dangerous.

Fact: Distracted driving is extremely common and extremely dangerous. Experts say it’s on par with or even more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol in terms of its risk for causing auto accidents. In fact, the sheer number of distracted drivers on Tennessee’s roadways means it’s more important than ever for safety-conscious drivers to avoid distractions at all costs. Staying alert and in full control of your vehicle can help you avoid a collision—especially one that might be caused by another distracted driver.

Myth: Police don’t ticket drivers who drive while distracted.

Fact: If you use your cell phone behind the wheel in Tennessee, you may see blue lights in your rear-view mirror soon. Nearly 2,000 citations were issued in the Volunteer State between April 2 and April 4, 2018. Troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol utilized buses to provide bird’s eye views of nearby vehicles, allowing them to more easily catch drivers who were using their cell phones while their vehicles were in motion. In addition, all local and state law enforcement officers are trained to be on the lookout for distracted drivers, and they don’t hesitate to issue expensive citations to drivers who violate the state’s distracted driving laws.

Were You Hurt by a Distracted Driver? Call Us Today.

Tennessee drivers are supposed to uphold their duty to drive safely at all times. When they speed, follow too closely, drive while impaired, or drive while distracted, they fail to uphold their end of the bargain when it comes to sharing Tennessee’s roadways with innocent victims like you—and that means they can be held liable for any injuries they cause.

At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident lawyers have fought for the rights of car crash victims for 30 years, and we know how to build strong claims that get results. When you call us, we’ll calculate how much the accident has cost in terms of current and future medical bills and lost wages, and we’ll do everything in our power to get you the full damages you deserve.

Contact us today at (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form to get started.