Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 7:59 pm
Police in Texas recently stated that the likely cause of a chain-reaction car accident that disrupted morning rush hour traffic on Interstate 35 on Monday, September 8 was someone responding to a text message while driving, making the crash a case of distracted driving, which according to them, happens frequently in the state. In fact, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), lack of driver attention accounts for 94,000 accidents in the state every year.
TxDOT also stated that a person is four times more in danger of being involved in a motor vehicle accident if they use their cell phone while operating their vehicle. Other distracted driving activities include watching a video, eating and drinking, grooming, or adjusting the vehicle’s global positioning system (GPS) while driving, the department said.
Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA show that distracted driving is one of the top causes of car crashes on U.S. roads and highways. Other common causes of accidents are driving over the speed limit (and sometimes driving too slow along major roads), reckless driving, and drunk driving.
Much like distracted driving, drunk driving is a dangerous driving behavior that federal and state authorities have been working to reduce in recent years. As such, the establishment of sobriety checkpoints, the implementation of higher fines, imprisonment, mandatory counseling, community service and/or revocation or suspension of driver’s license are all penalties that those convicted of drunk driving now face.
Alcohol impairs a driver; scientific studies have consistently declared and proven this. So too does distracted driving, though the impairment it causes is of a different kind. While drunk driving impairs an individual’s cognitive abilities, making it difficult, if not impossible, for a drunk driver to make safe, rational decisions behind the wheel, distracted driving removes a driver’s attention from the road, which can result in significant delays in response time, and often, over correcting when obstacles or potential dangers do finally become visible to a driver.
While many people are extremely responsible when it comes to drinking and driving, sadly, the majority of drivers are guilty of allowing distractions to take their focus from road, though many may not be totally aware of it. Think about certain other activities you might have performed simultaneously while driving, like eating, lighting a cigarette, playing your music loudly, reading a map or checking for directions, brushing your hair, putting on makeup, adjusting the navigation system or a car radio, making or answering a call and, probably worst of all, texting. All of these remove one’s attention from the road, and could ultimately lead to an otherwise preventable accident.