Increasingly, people try to manage the complexity of their lives by multitasking. Whether eating while driving or sending a text message while waiting at an intersection, motorists are trying to cram a lot of tasks into the time they should be focused on the road.
As a result, more motorists are being injured because of distracted driving.
If you have been hit by a distracted driver, we want to hear from you. The Northern California car accident attorneys at GJEL help injured motorists get the compensation they need.
Is Texting and Driving Dangerous?
Yes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every day about 9.5 people are killed and 1,000 are injured by distracted driving. Texting and talking on a cell phone make up a large fraction of distracted driving cases. Unfortunately, NHTSA reports that more people are texting while driving—about 32% in 2015 as compared to 27% in 2012.
It is easy enough to illustrate how dangerous texting and driving is. At 55 miles an hour, a car will travel the entire length of a football field in five seconds. This means that in the time it takes to simply read a text message, you will travel 100 yards with your eyes off the road. Unsurprisingly, many people crash as they fail to see cars entering the road or fail to yield because they did not see a stop sign.
Based on one study, texting while driving impaired a driver’s reflexes and ability to respond more than being legally intoxicated. The results surprised the participants, all of whom assumed that they would be more alert while texting.
Why Can’t Drivers Multitask?
According to many experts, multitasking is a bit of a myth. The human brain does not do two things well at the same time. Instead, the brain switches back and forth from one task to the next, kind of like shutting one eye and then shutting the other. Your attention is constantly divided between two tasks, neither one of which you can do particularly well.
Furthermore, texting is not some mindless activity. Instead, you have to read the text and mentally formulate a response. This type of communication quite clearly needs all of your focus and attention. Furthermore, if you are upset by what you read, then you will be that much more distracted.
Unfortunately, the people who are the worst at multitasking are usually the people who think they excel at it. This is a recipe for disaster—especially when you try to combine texting and driving.
Instead of Multitasking, Try Chunking
So what should you do if you are driving to a meeting and need to read your text messages? Experts believe you can boost your productivity by focusing all of your attention on each task in front of you. Doing so will allow you to complete work more quickly and accurately than if your attention is divided.
For example, if you need to check your phone, pull over to a rest stop or to the side of the road. You can read and respond to all text messages at once. You should also respond to emails and return phone calls at the same time. This is called “chunking”—setting aside a chunk of time to do similar tasks and focusing only on them.
By taking care of everything at once you can focus your full attention and then put your phone away when you pull back onto the road.
Some drivers recommend using a “hands free” phone to make calls and send texts. Typically, you mount this phone on the dash or use a bluetooth device to speak into. Think twice before pursuing this option. For one thing, these devices are rarely hands free. Instead, you usually have to push a button somewhere. Furthermore, the text or phone call will still take a good amount of your concentration. It is hard to have a complicated discussion and drive at the same time, even if both eyes are on the road and both hands are on the wheel.
Accidents Caused by Texting while Driving
If you insist on texting and driving, you increase the risks of the following types of accidents:
- Rear-end collisions. With your eyes glued on the phone, you might never see the car stopped in front of you. If a commercial tractor-trailer is parked in front of you, you could go right underneath, causing horrific injuries as the trailer smashes in the windshield and peels off the roof of your passenger car.
- Drifting into oncoming traffic. The longer you look at the phone, the less control you will have over your vehicle. It is normal to drift into oncoming traffic, leading to head-on collisions.
- T-bones. If you are texting, you might run a red light and get T-boned by a car going on a green light.
- Pedestrian accidents. Reading a text message is particularly dangerous as you approach an intersection. You might never see someone enter the crosswalk. Even if you only text while stopped at a red light, you might forget to check whether someone has entered the crosswalk late before you hit the accelerator.
In sum, there is no reason to risk your safety or the safety of others by texting behind the wheel. Instead, put the phone away until you reach your destination or pull over.
Injured by a Distracted Driver? Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer at GJEL
Injured motorists can receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering when a distracted driver plows into them. At GJEL, we have experience proving that a driver was distracted. For example, we might subpoena the driver’s cell phone records to identify if they were texting or talking at the time of the collision.
If you have suffered a car accident, we want to hear from you. Please contact GJEL as soon as possible to start the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries.