Technology can be a wonderful thing—until it isn’t. While it’s often handy, even safer, to have nearly instant access to family or to emergency assistance via cell phones, the dark side is that we are using our phones for non-essential purposes. Research has shown this to be especially true for those under 30. Believe it or not, young adults aged 25 to 29 are doing more texting than teens. Of drivers 16 to 18, 31 percent are texting while driving, while 45 percent of those aged 25 to 29 are doing so. Some researchers think that focusing on young adults rather than on teens will do more to fix the problem.
April is the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Distracted Driving Month. This year’s theme is “Just Drive,” which is meant to emphasize that all you should be doing while driving is driving—including restricting your usage of hands-free devices. Research has demonstrated that being able to multitask while driving is sheer myth, and some studies show that using voice-to-text capabilities to send messages is more, not less, distracting than typing.
Living and Dying By the Numbers
You might be thinking that a lot of crashes are caused by mechanical problems—brake failures, tire blow-outs—or by bad weather. The surprising truth is that 94 percent of all crashes are caused by driver error. That’s nearly 19 in 20 crashes. Cell phones are not responsible for all 94 percent of accidents. However, almost all crashes that occur are preventable, regardless of the reason for driver error.
In the United States, over 40,000 people died on the road in 2016. That’s a 14 percent increase since 2014. Traffic deaths across the U.S. due to distracted driving rose nearly 9 percent in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In South Carolina, even though deaths because of distracted driving were only 43 in 2016—a six-year low—2015 saw a record high with 64 fatalities.
You may have read similar statistics before. But did you know that distracted driving is also hitting your pocketbook?
Financial Costs Are Rising
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has indicated that premiums increased 16 percent since 2011 across the U.S. Such cost increases may be one reason why companies such as Cummins, a diesel engine maker based in Indiana, have put in place a distracted driving policy specifically aimed at cell phone usage. A representative for the company has reported that crash rates have declined since they instituted their Driver Safety Program.
Additionally, insurance costs in our state are going up quickly, and some attribute the increase to accidents resulting from distracted driving. The SC Department of Insurance has reported that rates rose 8.9 percent in 2016. Ray Farmer, the Department of Insurance’s director, commented, “Distracted driving is a big part of that. You can’t go on the road without seeing someone – it doesn’t matter the age – texting, talking on the phone or reading emails.”
In an effort to work against the trend, the SC Department of Insurance has launched a campaign characterizing driving and texting as #inexcusable. If you wish, you can pledge that you will not text and drive. Those who pledge will also be entered into a raffle for concert tickets.
When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.
Have you been in an accident with a distracted driver who was using some form of social media on their phone or was distracted by something else, like an infotainment system? The South Carolina vehicular accident lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm have represented injured South Carolinians in personal injury suits since 1959. With our firm on the case, you can rest assured that you’ll get the personalized attention you deserve. If you have been seriously injured or a loved one was killed in a vehicular accident in which the other party was at fault, South Carolina law entitles you to hold that party legally responsible for your medical expenses and vehicle repair bills, as well as for any lost wages and other financial losses. You may also seek compensation for pain and suffering or loss of comfort, care and companionship of a loved one. The deadline for filing a claim is already running, so contact the Louthian Law Firm for help by calling us at 1-803-454-1200. If you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.