Driver distraction has become an increasingly large problem in the U.S. in the past few years. Cell phone use makes it easier than ever to become distracted while driving. A Chicago car accident attorney knows that there are other potentially dangerous actions that can take motorists’ minds off the task of driving. Drivers should remember that the following four actions, in addition to cell phone use, can cause deadly accidents with devastating results.
- Talking to passengers
The American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety recently performed a study to determine the level of mental distraction associated with some common tasks in which drivers engage. Talking to passengers was included in the study. Researchers found that talking to a passenger in the vehicle was just slightly less distracting than hand-held cell phone use, and slightly more distracting than the use of a hands-free cell phone.
- Other motorists
A Chicago car accident attorney understands that one of the most distracting things on the road is not what drivers have in their hands, but other motorists. A study by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania found that motorists are the greatest external distraction to each other. Drivers are often distracted when they become frustrated at the annoying, inconsiderate, rude or illegal acts of other motorists. This can cause them to become less aware of the roads and contribute to accidents.
According to a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eating while driving is responsible for 80 percent of all car accidents. Motorists who have their hands full with food are unable to react quickly to potential dangers. Foods that are very hot, leak or create a large mess are particularly distracting to drivers, who become engrossed with the mess instead of focusing on the road.
- Speech-to-text systems
Speech-to-text systems were also included in the AAA distraction study. These devices allow drivers to orally transcribe email and text messages and then send them to their recipients. Some systems even allow motorists to update their social media accounts. Contrary to popular opinion, researchers found that these hands-free systems were the most distracting thing they evaluated. They determined that the systems were high risk because they increased the mental workload and cognitive distraction to a point that drivers would no longer be aware of anything but the task of sending their message, even if a hazard presented right in front of them. Only a few of the speech-to-text systems they studied were considered safe enough to use on the roads.
Drivers and pedestrians who have been injured by distracted motorists should turn to a Chicago car accident attorney for help with their claim. These attorneys should be familiar with personal injury laws and have experience interacting with insurance companies. This will help them negotiate the best possible settlement for their injured parties’ claims.