March 30, 2016 Auto Accidents
Woman sending text messages while driving.

In 2014, more than 3,000 Americans were killed in distracted driving accidents. Federal estimates have put the death toll closer to 5,000 last year. The wide scale ramifications of this dangerous epidemic have prompted numerous studies on the types of behaviors that put motorists at greatest risk, from using cell phones to grooming or simply reaching for an object.

The findings from a recent report put out by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers shows that some types of activities are more dangerous than others. The research is noteworthy as it’s the first driving study using large-scale, crash-only naturalistic data from 3,500 participants across the United States.

Study looks at 1,600 verified crash events

Their report – the first ever of its kind in the States – was based on results from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study, which gave a first-hand glimpse at real world driving behavior. All of the voluntary participants agreed to have their vehicles armed with sensors, cameras and radar equipment that collected hard data on driver behavior and performance.

The data showed that certain types of distractions, such as following a vehicle too closely, interacting with a child in the car, or applying makeup were not as risky as previously thought, since none of the activities featured prominently in the moments before accidents. 

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that 90 percent of the 1,600 crashes involved driver-related factors including drowsiness, impairment and errors. Another distraction that the study noted was the influence of driving while sad, angry or in another type of emotionally agitated state. The data indicated that driving while emotionally charged increased the risk of crashing nearly 10-fold.

Other factors that affect accident risk include slamming on the brakes too quickly, or traveling in an unknown vehicle or roadway. Lastly, excessive speeding poses a 13-fold risk of getting into an accident.

“All of these findings are especially important as we work with policymakers, educators, drivers themselves, law enforcement officials, and vehicle designers to define and help mitigate driver risks,” said Virginia Tech Transportation Institute director Tom Dingus, who led the study.

Victims of distracted drivers have legal rights

Motorists who talk on the phone, use a touchscreen, eat or text while driving put others on the road at great risk for serious personal injury, or even death. California, like other states across the country, affords legal remedies to those who have been injured or suffered property damage caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver. Many of these preventable accidents resolve through the court system, allowing victims to pursue fair compensation for all related medical costs, lost income, emotional pain and suffering, and other damages. However, distracted driving victims must pursue a personal injury lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitation, which places a time limit on filing claims.

If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to see if litigation is the right course of action. The Salamati Law firm extends free consultations to anyone who wishes to explore their legal options with a skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer.

Call us anytime, 24 hours a day at 888-259-4060 to discuss your rights to compensation.