Distracted driving has always been a concern on the Illinois roadways and across the U.S. According to distraction.gov, the number of motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving has increased in recent years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 387,000 injury accidents and more than 3,000 traffic fatalities in 2011 were directly related to distracted driving. Many experts believe the higher numbers are due to the prevalence of hand held communication devices used behind the wheel. Any car accident attorney in Illinois is probably familiar with the three types of driving distractions.
An individual who looks at something other than the road while driving is visually distracted. Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. Things outside the vehicle are often the source of the lack of visual attention. Others include looking at maps, cell phones or passengers in the vehicle.
When the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel, it is considered a manual distraction. Some common manually distracting behaviors include the following:
- Holding a cell phone
- Adjusting the radio or vehicle controls
- Reaching for an item in the vehicle
- Eating or drinking
A car accident attorney in Illinois knows that having a pet in the vehicle can lead a driver to take a hand off the wheel for interactions such as petting or restraining the animal.
It is critical for a driver to focus completely on the task of driving at all times. Any type of mental multi-tasking pulls attention away from the road and compromises the safety of everyone nearby. Illinois Tollway data showed that cognitive distractions factored into nearly 6,000 motor vehicle crashes between 2008 and 2012. There were fatalities in 30 of these accidents.
Texting while driving is considered the most dangerous type of behavior because it involves visual, manual and cognitive distractions. A typical text causes the driver to disengage from the task of driving for approximately five seconds at a time. When travelling at 55 miles per hour, this is equal to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. It increases the risk of an accident by 23 times.
A car accident attorney in Illinois may be able to offer legal advice to victims of motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Compensation may be available for expenses related to injuries and fatalities.