Distracted driving is doing anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road. It’s not just limited to talking or texting on a phone. It includes using a hands-free device to make a call and even talking to a passenger. Research shows that drivers cannot perform two tasks at the same time. Things like driving and eating or driving and having a conversation lead to decreased attention which in turn lead to more car accidents.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, when multiple organizations try to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 3,500 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.
Unfortunately, distracted driving remains a major issue. Preliminary car accident data from 2016 shows that fatal accidents are up and pedestrian accident deaths are up as well, and distracted driving may be to blame.
Fatal Accident Deaths Up in 2016
According to the National Safety Council, fatal auto accident deaths increased by 6% in 2016. Although the data is preliminary, it reveals a disturbing trend.
- 2016: 40,200 traffic accident deaths
- 2015: 37,757 traffic accident deaths
- 2014: 35,398 traffic accident deaths
- 2013: 35,369 traffic accident deaths
The data shows that just within the past 2 years, there has been a sharp increase in the annual number of traffic accident deaths. If the preliminary data is correct, 2016 will mark the first year in nearly 10 years that the number of total car accident deaths in the U.S. reached 40,000.
Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, the total number of auto accident deaths has remained steady, at roughly 1,200 each year. PA is one of 12 states which saw decreases in the number of fatal auto accidents in 2016.
Pedestrian Accident Deaths Up in 2016
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian accident deaths are up in 2016 across the U.S., including Pennsylvania. Preliminary data from the GHSA shows that pedestrian accident deaths are up by 6% across the country in 2016. While 6% isn’t a huge increase, what’s particularly troubling is that pedestrian accident deaths are up by 25% since 2010.
In Pennsylvania, there was a 30% increase in the number of fatal pedestrian accidents between January and June 2016. For the first half of 2016, there were 77 pedestrian accident deaths (for the same period in 2015, there were 59).
It’s estimated that 25% of all auto accidents are due to distracted driving, and distracted driving is often under-reported. Whether it’s talking on a phone, using an app or talking to a passenger, distracted driving is responsible for an increasing number of auto accidents and injuries each year.
Drivers must keep not only their eyes on the road, but their attention must be directed solely to the task of driving. This also applies to pedestrians who walk across the street while on their phones; their attention should be directed solely to the task of crossing the street.
For more information about car accident law and safety, visit our Philadelphia Auto Accident Law Library.