A car accident can happen in the blink of an eye—the same time it takes to check a text message or respond to another small distraction. And in West Virginia, driving distracted doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Reports from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that every day in the US, nine people die in distracted driving accidents. In 2020, 3,142 people died in distracted driving accidents, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. One-fifth of those fatalities weren’t drivers or passengers, but bicyclists and pedestrians outside of a vehicle. About 400,000 people suffer injuries every year for the same reason.
In two seconds of distraction from your driving, your chances of an accident increase significantly.
Distracted Driving Defined
Anything that takes a person’s full attention from their driving leaves that driver open to a crash. There are three components of distracted driving that can cause an accident, but any one of them can lead to a crash:
• Manual: taking your hands off the steering wheel, like eating or drinking
• Visual: not paying attention to the road, like looking at something else
• Cognitive: taking your mind off driving, such as talking on a cell phone
All three of these components at once leave a driver completely distracted and driving on “autopilot.” Activities such as:
• Eating, drinking or smoking while driving
• Talking to children or other passengers in the vehicle
• Using Google Maps, Apple Maps, or other GPS function on a phone
• Talking or texting
• Letting pets move around inside the vehicle or sit on your lap while driving
• Changing the radio station, streaming channel, or playlist
• Changing the temperature on the heater or air conditioner
• Grooming, especially applying makeup
• Thinking about something other than driving and not paying full attention
• Checking out a car accident, attraction, or other activity outside the vehicle, known as “rubbernecking”
Just a quick glance away from your windshield turns your attention away from what’s ahead. Using your hands to handle something else off the steering wheel means you no longer have control. Letting your mind wander to something else puts your mental energy elsewhere and away from your driving.
Driving And Talking/Texting
If you’ve been driving for some time, it’s easy to become complacent about regularly driving familiar routes. You may be able to get to work or home without completely thinking about it. But this is a bad idea.
We’re so accustomed to our cell phones now that we don’t think twice about answering a call, sending a text, or responding to one. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to this mindset. But West Virginia law prohibits the use of handheld devices while driving, no matter what age.
Because texting and driving is a combination of manual, visual, and cognitive distractions, it’s one of the most dangerous (aside from drunk driving.) West Virginia also considers texting and driving a “primary offense,” meaning that a police officer can require a driver to pull over for a citation when talking, texting, or otherwise using a cell phone in a non-emergency situation.
Texting and driving are the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. For someone to read or respond to a text takes about five seconds. In that five seconds, a car driving at 55 mph travels the length of a football field. Many drivers wouldn’t consciously drive the long side of a football field without looking, but don’t realize that they are when they text and drive.
Distracted Driving Accident? The Love Law Firm Can Help
We’ve been helping Virginians for over 25 years with car accidents. From police reports to repairs to dealing with insurance companies, we’re ready to help you navigate through the complexities of a car accident case. Don’t say anything until you speak with West Virginia accident attorney Chad Love first.
If you’ve been involved in a Charleston car accident and need help, contact us at The Love Law Firm, or call us at (304) 344 5683. Your consultation is free, and we only collect if we win your case.