Two new studies from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggest that we need to reconsider how we look at distracted driving in Hollywood and other communities. According to the studies, people who use cell phones while driving do have more crashes and close calls when compared with other motorists, but cell phones do not seem to have an impact on overall collision risks.
The problem, according to researchers, is distracted driving itself and not cell phone use in particular. This is because drivers who are texting or using a cell phone may slow down or engage in other activities to reduce the risk of crashing. Drivers who are not on cell phones, however, are not necessarily safer because they are more likely to take part in other distractions – such as eating, talking with passengers, or smoking – when compared with drivers who use mobile devices.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has raised some questions about the study, noting that researchers were examining data that is ten years old, which does not reflect the current generation of cell phones and mobile devices. The NSC also noted that cell phone use in collisions is underreported and that it can be a factor in as many as 26% of all car accidents.
Despite the questions raised by the NSC, the findings of the researchers do confirm what safety experts and researchers have been saying. Specifically, there has been a focus in recent years on various types of distractions. Safety experts have said that focusing only on mobile devices is not enough because it detracts from all the types of distractions that can cause car accidents.
Any type of distraction can lead to a collision, including:
- Talking on the phone
- Speaking with passengers
- Adjusting car temperature or other components
- Changing the music
- Setting or looking at the GPS or other display
- Looking at billboards, a collision, or something else on the road
- Grooming or applying makeup
- Checking a map
Anything that takes the driver’s mind off driving, their hands off the wheel, or their eyes off the road can cause a collision. Unfortunately, legislators have focused only on mobile device use in part due to past studies and in part because it is possible to legislate and enforce such laws. Trying to get a law passed against daydreaming and driving, for example, would be impossible.
Researchers from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) note that while cell phone use does not increase overall car accident rates, it can increase the risk of accidents for individual drivers. Clearly, putting away mobile devices while driving is still an important rule. However, it is also important to target other types of distracted driving through enforcement and education.
The attorneys at Flaxman Law Group would be happy to meet with you in a free consultation if you have been injured by a negligent driver. Simply contact our law firm at any time to arrange your free case review.