Distracted Driving

Insight from Our Houston Car Accident Lawyers

Distracted drivers are one of the biggest dangers on America's roadways. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), about 25% of traffic accidents in 2011 could be attributed to cell phone use, and that is just one form of distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 421,000 people were injured in auto accidents involving distracted drivers in 2011, and that these crashes claimed 3,360 lives in 2011 and 3,328 lives in 2012.

At Stern Law Group, we are committed to helping those who have been injured by distracted drivers. If you want to find out how a Houston car accident lawyer at our firm can help you, please call for a free consultation. You can also continue reading to learn more about these collisions and your rights if you have been injured.

Safe Driving Requires Three Forms of Attention

To safely operate a motor vehicle, a driver should have his or her full attention on the road and the task at hand. There are three primary forms of attention required for safe, distraction-free driving: visual, manual and cognitive. Here we will look at these and how they can be adversely affected, thus detracting from one's ability to drive safely.

Visual attention refers to a driver's eyes on the road. A driver needs to be looking at the road and checking side and rearview mirrors regularly in order to notice changes in traffic patterns, traffic signs, obstacles in the road and more. Anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road poses a threat because a driver may not observe a hazard or even a simple curve in the road until it is too late. Texting while driving and looking at an in-vehicle navigation system are examples of distractions that would affect visual attention.

Manual attention refers to a driver's hands on the wheel. A driver should have both hands on the steering wheel at all times so he or she can effectively maneuver the vehicle in normal and potentially hazardous conditions. Anything that takes one or both of a driver's hands from the wheel may be dangerous, such as eating while driving, applying make-up, lighting a cigarette or adjusting the radio.

Cognitive attention refers to a driver's mental attention on the task at hand. A driver needs to be thinking about what he or she is doing in order to drive safely. Mental distractions can be just as dangerous as visual or manual distractions, leading to serious collisions. Some examples of situations that may affect cognitive attention include: texting, talking on the phone (even on a hands-free device) or talking to a passenger.

Cell Phones and Distracted Drivers

Cell phone use is one of the most dangerous distractions for drivers. Texting or emailing in particular can pose serious threats because all three forms of a driver's attention will be affected: visual, manual and cognitive. According to a survey by the NHTSA, about 9% of drivers are using a cell phone at any given daylight moment. A driver who is using a cell phone while driving is estimated to be about four times more likely to be involved in an accident, according to a NSC fact sheet. Texting while driving places drivers at a significantly increased crash risk, of about 23 times.

According to the NHSTSA website www.distraction.gov:

  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.

Help for Car Accident Victims in Houston

If you were hit by a distracted driver, call a Houston car accident attorney at our firm. We know you may be wondering what right you have to compensation and what your claim may be worth. With a legal professional to protect your best interests through the entire claims process, you can focus on healing. Allow Stern Law Group to seek justice on your behalf so you can move on with your life. Call our offices today.