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Distracted driving blamed for higher traffic deaths in 2016

Distractions behind the wheel have always been problematic (eating and drinking, reading a map/GPS). But the technologically advanced ones (texting, emailing, updating social media and video chatting) are now causing the most accidents. This epidemic of distracted driving on the 5, the 405 and the 101 is responsible for too many injury-causing and deadly car crashes.

According to data provided by the National Safety Council, the number of traffic deaths across America spiked in 2016, with more than 40,000 car accident fatalities. California alone was responsible for thousands of those deaths (3,680, a 13 percent jump from 2015).

The dangers of complacency

NSC spokesperson and CEO Deborah Hersmann, recognizes a major factor in the rise in the number of fatal accidents in recent years: a complacency that accidents will occur, and an unwillingness to adapt our behaviors in ways necessary to prevent them.

Texting and instant messaging are in particular notoriously hard to do while driving, because they actually take up an enormous amount of the brain's energy to comprehend a message, craft a response, type that in and then move on to the next part of the conversation.

While handheld use of a cellular phone is technically banned, it still happens. And interacting with a mobile device involves three distinct levels of distraction, all of which combine in a "perfect storm" of increased likelihood that a crash will happen:

  • Visual - taking your eyes off the road to look at your phone
  • Manual - taking your hands off the wheel to type in the letters
  • Cognitive - thinking about the conversation instead of the task at hand (which already involves the need to pay attention to a number of factors, including traffic levels, speed, weather conditions, directions, road names/exit numbers and more)

California's Office of Traffic Safety has expressed frustration with the sharp rise in fatal accidents in the state. Spokesperson Chris Cochran identified distracted driving, speeding and driving under the influence as the three most likely reasons why death rates rose year-over-year. The data is raw yet in terms of exact causes of accidents, but the OTS is planning to address each of those issues throughout 2017 in an attempt to reverse the trend.

If you have concerns that a distracted driver caused an auto accident, tell one of our experienced personal injury attorneys what happened. We can investigate and then explain your legal options.

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