Driving is a part of the culture in the United States probably more than anywhere else in the world. And even though there are some signs that the culture is shifting and that we'll be seeing fewer Americans in cars, people are still very much in favor of driving. In 2015, there were more than 218 million people in America holding a driver's license — more than two-thirds of the country's population.
While cars are one of the things that enable the normal functioning of life in such a large country, they are also tied to some infamous statistics. In 2016, there were more than 34,000 car crashes that resulted in a total of 37,461 fatalities. And roughly one in every ten people killed in a car accident died because of distracted driving.
The Epidemic of Distraction
One of the major causes of distraction while driving are the things that most people have by their side at all times — their cell phones. It is estimated that every day in the United States there are 660,000 people who use electronic devices while they're behind the wheel. And police agencies, government bodies, and legislators know that's a problem.
"Most auto accidents are caused by some form of driver negligence" says attorney Neal Strom. "Distracted driving is one of the most common types of driver negligence," he added.
What Happens When People Are Distracted While Driving?
When people are driving, they perform three vital activities. They keep their eyes on the road ahead, as well as check the mirrors regularly. They keep both hands on the steering wheel. And they are mindful of the fact that they are behind the wheel of a moving car with other cars around them.
However, if people choose to have a long look at their navigation system, a map, or something else in the car, they're not looking in front of the car. If something happens on the road ahead of them, they might not be able to see it in time to react.
People can drink or eat while driving. Having only one hand on the wheel will impair the driver's ability to react, even if they notice a situation they should react to. Texting is one of the worst things drivers can do because they are removing a hand from the steering wheel and looking away from the road, which impairs both their ability to notice what's ahead and to react properly. And each and every distraction decreases the driver's mindfulness of their surroundings and the activities they should be doing if they want to drive safely.
The Consequences of Driving While Distracted
A consequence of driving while distracted is when the drivers gets caught by the authorities. Depending on the state they're in, they could be made to pay a fine or have criminal misdemeanor charges brought against them. If they're a repeat offender, the punishment might be more severe. It's also possible that drivers will get points on their record, mandatory road safety classes, or temporary suspension of their license.
In 2015, 391,000 people were hurt due to the distracted driving. Distracted drivers are a danger to the safety of other drivers, pedestrians, as well as themselves. Injury, destruction of property, and death are possible outcomes of driving while distracted.
Every person who sits behind the wheel of a car needs to be aware of two things. One is that the machine they're in gives them the ability to traverse enormous distances in relatively short time. The other is that the same machine can injure or kill people if they don't operate it properly. The benefits of being able to drive are balanced by responsibilities drivers have while operating a car. And there isn't a single text message in the world that could be worth someone's life.