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The data on distracted driving is alarming

Distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, has become the new drunk driving. Not only do many people consider it just as dangerous, if not more, but public-awareness campaigns seem to be on the rise, and with good reason.

Did you know that approximately 25 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle crashes result from distracted driving? When you consider the fact that thousands of crashes occur across the country every day, and some of them happen here in Rhode Island, that's far too many people dying because a driver failed to pay attention.

More disturbing numbers

If that first statistic alarmed you, you aren't alone. Here are some more that may give you pause the next time you get behind the wheel:

  • Over 58 percent of crashes involving teens are due to distracted driving.
  • Every day, nine people lose their lives to distracted driving crashes.
  • In 2015, distracted driving accidents led to approximately 391,000 injuries and 3,477 fatalities.
  • Diverting your attention from the road for as little as three seconds can result in a crash.
  • More than 80 percent of drivers admit to engaging in hazardous behaviors while driving such as shaving or changing clothes.

The number of injuries and fatalities attributed to distracted driving is more than likely much higher in reality since there is no way to test for not paying attention as there is for drunk or drugged driving. For these reasons and others, many people consider distracted driving an epidemic.

Factors that contribute to distracted driving

Anything that takes your attention off the road contributes to distracted driving, but some activities are more common than others are:

  • If you fiddle with the radio or talk to passengers, you could easily become distracted.
  • If you daydream or look outside your vehicle, these activities also divert your attention from the task at hand.
  • Parents and pet owners run the risk of becoming distracted as well.
  • The infotainment systems in most vehicles definitely provide a distraction to the driver.
  • Eating and drinking increases your chances of being in an accident by 80 percent.

Without a doubt, cell phone use, particularly texting, endangers lives unlike most other distractions. It requires manual, cognitive and visual attention from you. During the mere seconds it takes to respond to or read a text, the landscape in front, around and behind you can change drastically. Your chances of being in a car accident increase by 23 times if you are texting.

What happens after a distracted driving accident

The lists above are by no means exhaustive. The statistics and factors relating to distracted driving accidents make it plausible that you may find yourself seriously injured in one. If that happens, and the evidence proves that the other driver's distraction led to your injuries and subsequent financial losses, a Rhode Island civil court may award you damages. 

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