Distracted drivers contribute to soaring traffic fatalities

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Traffic-related deaths in Connecticut surged in the first nine months of 2021 by 16%. The state Department of Transportation reports 283 traffic fatalities through Nov. 2, compared to 245 during the same period in 2020.

Nationwide, the U.S. Transportation Department reports motor vehicle fatalities soared by 18.4% in the first half of this year, making it the deadliest since 2006. The agency cites excessive speed, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and other unsafe behaviors by drivers, such as distracted driving.

The three types of distracted driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says eight people die every day in the U.S. due to distracted drivers. Most people associate distracted driving only with looking at a smartphone while behind the wheel. But it can also include eating, changing the radio station or GPS and many other activities. There are three kinds of distractions:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road.
  • Manual: Removing one or both hands from the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive: Not concentrating on driving.

Recent statistics aren’t yet available for the percentage of distracted driving deaths and injuries. However, the CDC reported in 2018 that distracted drivers killed roughly 2,800 people and injured 400,000 others. In addition, one out of every five victims were outside of a vehicle, such as riding their bike or walking along the side of the road.

Holding distracted drivers accountable

It is illegal in Connecticut for drivers to use a handheld smartphone for any use, including texting and email. However, many people ignore the rules despite knowing the danger it presents for themselves and others. Studies show teenagers and younger drivers are the most common offenders.

Police don’t always need an eyewitness to prove carelessness by a distracted driver. By viewing a driver’s cellphone history, it is often possible to tell if they were illegally using their device at the time of the accident, making them responsible for the crash and the costs associated with the victim’s death or injuries.