New Study Probes Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere

Driving distractions contribute to roughly 30 percent of all car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere. The real number may even be higher because investigating officers may not detect or record all distractions, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration.

Currently in the state of Illinois, drivers under the age of 19, school bus drivers and drivers who are operating in school and construction zones are banned from using a cell phone behind the wheel. All drivers are banned from texting. Illinois is also one of only six states that allows localities to ban cell phone use for all drivers. As of now, Chicago is the only major city in our state that has made cell phone use by drivers illegal, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
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Our Illinois car accident attorneys see too many accidents each year that are caused by distracted drivers. These accidents are all 100 percent preventable. There are a number of ways distractions can take hold of a driver’s attention. There are visual distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the roadways, auditory distractions that happen when a driver hears something that’s not related to driving, manual distractions that occur when a driver is manipulating something other than the wheel and there are cognitive distractions that happen when a driver is thinking about something other than driving.

“While distracted driving is an emotional issue that raises the ire of many on the road, states must take a research-based approach to addressing the problem. Until more research is conducted, states need to proceed thoughtfully, methodically and objectively,” says GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha.

Enforcement of these regulations has concluded that:

-A high-visibility cell phone and texting law enforcement campaign drastically reduces cell phone use. Long term effects of this enforcement are not yet known.

-Laws banning hand-held cell phone use dropped the use of these devices by about half when they were first implemented.

A recent report conducted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration, titled Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, is able to summarize how often drivers operate a motor vehicle while distracted, what exactly distracted driving is and the crash risks of driving while distracted.

This study concluded that:

-Drivers who use hand-held devices are as much as four times as likely to get into a car accident that is serious enough to injure themselves.

-Texting likely increases accident risks more than cell phone use.

-Motorists frequently drive while distracted, perhaps as much as half the time.

-Drivers adapt to some extent. They are able to pay more attention to driving and reduce their distracting activities in more dangerous driving situations.

“Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,” said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the report’s development. “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

Nearly 5,500 people were killed in traffic accidents that reported the involvement of a distracted driver in the United States in 2009 alone. Another 448,000 people were injured in these incidents, according to Distraction.gov. This means that 20 percent of injury accidents that happened in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.

Distractions are inevitable. It is virtually impossible to completely eliminate them while driving, it’s a part of who we are as humans and as drivers. With proper self-discipline, we can all do our part to reduce distractions and risks of fatal accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

More Blog Entries:

Safe Driver Act of 2011 Could Increase Distracted Driving Laws in Illinois, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, July 1, 2011

National Safety Council Takes Nominations for 2011 Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award – Many Nominate Secretary of State Jesse White, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, July 5, 2011