Top 10 distractions behind the wheel

A couple of weeks ago in this Edwardsville Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog, we discussed how much of a distraction kids can be to drivers. An insurance company recently performed a study of fatal car accidents to analyze the various distractions that drivers face. It found that other occupants of vehicles–such as children–are the 4th most dangerous distraction.

According to the insurer, Erie Insurance, it found that of the 65,000-plus people who were killed in car accidents in the U.S. in the past two years, one in 10 were in car accidents that involved a distracted driver. One of the company’s vice presidents described distracted driving as an “activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task of driving safely.”

The study involved data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and information from police reports of accidents. The data involved car accidents that took place in 2010 and 2011.

The study found that the following top 10 distractions were most often involved in fatal accidents:

  1. Daydreaming, or being generally distracted or lost in thought
  2. Cell phones
  3. A person, event or object outside of the vehicle
  4. Other occupants in the vehicle
  5. Reaching for a device in the vehicle
  6. Drinking or eating
  7. Adjusting the music, heat or air conditioning
  8. Adjusting other in-vehicle devices such as rear view mirrors or navigation systems
  9. A moving object in the vehicle, like a pet or bug
  10. Smoking, such as lighting a cigarette

The insurer believes that the actual presence of distracted driving in fatal accidents may be greater than that which it reported because some people do not admit to police that they were distracted when interviewed after a crash. The study is nonetheless important because it shows drivers some of the distractions that should be avoided.

When distracted drivers do cause car accidents here in Illinois and people are injured or killed, they can be held liable with a civil action. Victims of such accidents should seek legal counsel to learn about their rights to pursue legal recourse and obtain compensation.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Insurer Analyzes Top 10 Driving Distractions Involved in Fatal Car Crashes,” April 4, 2013