Distracted driving continues to be a major problem, CDC says

One issue that has increasingly received media attention over the past few years is distracted driving becoming a factor in more and more car accidents. As a result of these media campaigns, many states, including Minnesota, have enacted bans on cellphones or texting while behind the wheel. However, despite these laws and the efforts of law enforcement to address the problem, distracted driving continues to be a major problem. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report that highlighted the seriousness of this issue.

In the report, the CDC found that approximately nine people are killed and a further 1,060 people are injured in car accidents in the United States every 24 hours where driver distraction is a contributing factor. To put this statistic another way, this finding means that a person is killed every 2.6 hours and 44 people are injured every hour by distracted drivers. Unfortunately, these numbers were derived only from accidents that police could conclusively link to distracted driving. As a result, the actual number is likely much higher.

The CDC's report also indicated that the problem is likely getting worse. According to the report, an estimated 3,267 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2010. One year later, this number had increased to 3,331.

There are many forms of distraction other than cellphones or texting, such as eating, using a navigational system or talking with a passenger. However, prior research has found that using cellphones to talk or text are the most distracting, because they involve several of the forms of distraction (visual, cognitive and manual) at a time.

Unfortunately, a survey by the CDC found, unsurprisingly, that cellphone use behind the wheel is rampant. In the survey of drivers ages 18-64, 69 percent admitted to using their cellphones while driving during the past 30 days. As a result, a large swath of motorists are needlessly put at risk at virtually any given time.

An attorney can help

Under Minnesota law, all drivers have the legal duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. Drivers that allow themselves to become distracted by their cellphones (or other devices) fail to fulfill this duty and are considered to be negligent under the law. If you or a loved one have been injured by an inattentive driver, it is wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise you on your right to recover compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of wages from the negligent party.