Motor vehicle accidents from distracted driving remain a prominent problem. A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) examines this problem and shows that it is a risk factor for teen and adult drivers alike. The article is entitled Distracted Driving and the Risk of Road Crashes Among Novice and Experienced Drivers.
“Distracted driving” refers to driving while engaged in so-called secondary tasks unrelated to driving, e.g., texting, dialing, eating, smoking, changing the radio, reading a book or smartphone, etc. I recently settled a claim involving a police officer who was looking at his in-car computer screen while making a left-hand turn that resulted in a head-on collision with my client. So, it appears that drivers will find new ways to avoid safe vehicle operation.
The article reports on a study wherein accelerometers, cameras, global positioning systems, and other sensors were installed in the vehicles of 42 newly licensed drivers (16.3 to 17.0 years) and 109 experienced drivers. Not surprisingly, the study found that the risk of a car crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones. While the article addressed high-risk behavior by teen drivers, there is ample support in the article that even experienced drivers put themselves and other drivers at risk by dialing a cell phone, texting, eating, and other actions taking the driver’s attention away from the road ahead.
Personal injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents are exceedingly common. Often, they are not really “accidents” but involve deliberate actions and choices that increase the risk of a collision, such as distracted driving, speeding, drinking and driving, tailgating, reckless operation for the weather conditions, and driving while fatigued.