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Distracted Driving a Leading Cause of Car Accidents

In the United States, 37,000 people are killed in automobile collisions each year and more than 2.3 million are seriously injured or become disabled, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel. These tragic figures only represent a fraction of the total number of car accidents in America, which is approximately 10 million annually. What's more, vehicle collisions are the single largest mortal threat to teenagers, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because California is among one of the largest populated states, it's little wonder why there are so many automobile accidents occurring each and every year. In the latest figures available, there were 2,857 fatal collisions in the Golden State in 2012, and increase from the year prior, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. For the years between 1990 and 2009, the number of annual traffic fatalities in California averaged 4,090, according to the United States Census. Sadly, about 1,600 children under the age of 15 years old are killed on the road annually, and almost 8,000 individuals die from auto accidents involving teen drivers ages 16 through 20.

Though many people believe that impaired driving is the leading cause of deaths on the road, it's actually the third. Distracted driving is the number one cause of vehicle collisions, while speeding is the second most cause for motor accidents. Vehicle crashes cost the United States more than $230 billion per year, with an average cost of $820 per individual, ASIRT reports.

Distracted Driving Causing Disaster

There are approximately 253 million automobiles on the road across America, according to a news report published by the Los Angeles Times. Inside those staggering number of vehicles on the road, drivers engage in many kinds of distractions. While behind the wheel controlling tons of steel, barreling along at speeds that pose a danger to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, motorists are tempted by more distractions than any time in history.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. -- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Our vehicles are now computers on wheels, rolling over the road with such technologies as GPS, smartphones, stereos, and built-in displays. What's more, with the many drive-thrus on practically every corner, food and drink are part of the number of distractions. All of these, not to mention grooming and other mundane tasks. With so many distractions readily available, it's no wonder why there are so many vehicle collisions each and every year.

2014 Car Accident Statistics and Leading Causes

While figures are in the process of being compiled for 2014, the latest numbers include those from 2013 and 2012. Though the number of automobile collisions dropped from 33,782 to 32,719 from 2012 to 2013, distracted driving continues to exact a heavy toll on the road.

Just in 2013 alone, there were 153.3 billion texts sent in the United States, according to the NHTSA. At any moment during the daylight hours, 660,000 motorists use cell phones and other electronic devices. A full 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes reported being distracted while driving; and, the average time spent distracted behind the wheel is 5 seconds, according to Distraction.gov, a site published jointly by NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation. While this might not seem too long a time, a driver could cover the length of a football field at a speed of 55 miles per hour.

Distracted driving is when motorists engage in certain behaviors which take part or all of their attention away from the road and includes the following leading causes for car accidents:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Grooming
  • Reading
  • Using navigational devices
  • Watching video
  • Adjusting sound levels or changing media content

Distracted driving, no matter what it is, simply isn't worth it. Lives are at stake every time a person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you have been involved in an automobile accident and were injured as a result of someone else's carelessness, you shouldn't be another statistic. Stand-up for what's right and seek the justice you deserve.

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