Operating a motor vehicle is, in many respects, like riding a flying carpet: It’s an efficient mode of travel, it allows for greater speed than other forms of transportation, and you absolutely need your eyes and hands engaged in order to circumvent disaster. In both contexts, there is a constant risk of making contact with something at high speed and coming to harm. The primary difference between a magic carpet and a car is that when you crash in your car, the chances of your hurting someone outside the vehicle are much higher.
In spite of the obvious risks associated with inattention at the wheel, texting accidents are the new rage in distracted driving: texting accidents took 450,000 casualties in the U.S. in 2009. There’s a whole new world out there on the road that many drivers are simply missing. Some of the more relevant components of that world are as follows:
1. Other Drivers
Communication with other drivers is key to an incident-free commute. Not all driving maneuvers are executed simply by following traffic signals; and therefore, not all can be predicted by those who aren’t aware of their surroundings. The texting driver may not notice when someone wants to ease into the lane in front of them, back out of a parking lot, or slow down. In fact, the texting driver may not notice things right under their nose for 4.6 seconds, the average amount of time texting distracts eyes from the road. Texting at the wheel has also been found to double a driver’s reaction time, making it more of an impairment than drunk driving. Safe interaction with other drivers depends absolutely on the degree of attention being paid to them.
Pedestrians are even harder to predict than other drivers—and on top of that, they are harder to see. It might be easy to rationalize that most motorist-pedestrian encounters take place at crosswalks or intersections that can be easily detected; however, even assuming that texting does not cause a driver to miss such spots completely (or to notice them belatedly), those are not the only places to find pedestrians. On the contrary, there are many circumstances under which pedestrians may show up unexpectedly, whether they are chasing a toddler or simply jaywalking. Even when the pedestrian is breaking the law, there is little sympathy for the motorist who strikes one they should have seen.
3. Road hazards
As a driver, you have every right to expect a road that is clear of debris and other hazards. Unfortunately, this will not always be the case. Your local department of transportation cannot clear the streets of all sleet or gravel; nor can they ensure that nothing will fly out of the back of someone else’s vehicle. People have been hurt and killed because of failure to avoid things that they had no reason to imagine would be in the street, be they furniture or deceased animals. Driving is full of surprises. Texting and driving does not prepare you for them.
4. Road signals
Flashing lights and stop signs are easy to spot when you’re driving unhindered—so easy, in fact, that you might think you could never miss them. However, studies have found that a huge component of texting is visual; that is, texting distracts the eyes, resulting in inattention blindness. Drivers with inattention blindness miss billboards, other cars braking in front of them, and other things that a less distracted driver would easily catch.
If you have suffered a severe injury in a texting accident, and don’t seem able to make ends meet in spite of insurance payouts, don’t assume that your luck has run out. It is not uncommon for injury victims to have more coming to them than can be accessed without a profound understanding of their insurance policy and of its pressure points. For those who suspect this may be their situation, free initial consultations are available, compliments of personal injury attorneys Christensen & Hymas. To find out whether you have, in fact, done all you can do, call (801) 506-0800.
Image Courtesy of Melina Sampaio Manfrinatii