A recent study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center indicates that distracted drivers are to blame for more and more fatal bicycle and pedestrian accidents. Between 2005 and 2010, bicycle deaths related to distracted driving went up by 30 percent and pedestrian deaths related to distracted driving increased nearly 50 percent. Meanwhile, motor vehicle fatalities have decreased.
Of course, accidents caused by distracted driving are probably underreported. It’s one of those behaviors behind the wheel that police investigating an accident can’t necessarily prove or can assume occurred. However, these findings do show that people crossing streets or riding bicycles could be facing serious risks.
Types of Distractions That Could Lead to an Accident
There are three general types of distractions (with accompanying behaviors) that can multiply the chances an accident will occur. While each one in and of itself is dangerous, combining two or more is especially risky.
The three major distractions that lead to an accident:
- not keeping one’s eyes on the road;
- not keeping one’s hands on the wheel; and
Drivers who don’t keep their eyes on the road are distracted. It could be looking at a device, such as a phone or map. Someone might take his or her eyes off the road to look at scenery, a car pulled off to the side, or the scene of a crash. It could also include looking at a passenger or in the mirror (to put on makeup or fix hair).
Not keeping hands on the wheel. Another type of distraction is when someone takes one or both hands off the wheel.
Examples of removing one’s hands from the wheel that can be dangerous:
- reaching for a cell phone;
- picking up something that was dropped;
- changing a radio station; or
- putting in/taking out a CD.
Not keeping mind on the task of driving. Just as dangerous is for a driver to have his or her mind on anything other than driving. This could include daydreaming or planning one’s day, replaying an emotional scene. If someone is upset or angry, it can create distracting thoughts.
Gacovino, Lake & Associates helps bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists who are injured or families of loved ones who are killed by distracted drivers. Call 800-550-0000 to set up an appointment.