Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law Articles Why Your Passengers are Deadlier Than Your Phone

Why Your Passengers are Deadlier Than Your Phone

By Terry Bryant  Oct. 5, 2018 9:38a

The ramifications of distracted driving are significant. The NHTSA says that in 2016 distracted driving was responsible for almost 3,500 deaths, and it is now blamed for over 400,000 injuries annually. Financially, distracted driving is believed to account for about $46 billion in economic costs. While the numbers are surprising, the reasons behind the incidents may be just as notable.

While the use of electronic devices like cell phones is the second highest cause of distracted driving accidents, the leading cause is actually the passengers in the car. This is particularly true for younger drivers. This means that your passengers can be more deadly than your phone.

How Passengers Can Be a Distraction

The reasons passengers can be a distraction are common, and most of us have experienced them.

  • Crying or misbehaving children. What parent hasn't felt the need to turn around and check on a crying baby or to separate arguing siblings while they are driving? Pets can also cause similar distractions while driving.
  • Arguments. Our cars are often where we can catch up on the day's events with friends and families. There are times, however, when these conversations can get animated. We need to be aware that this can be a serious form of distracted driving and avoid arguments in vehicles.
  • Singing/partying. When friends get together in a car, the sound system often gets louder and the passengers frequently form an impromptu singing group. Even if the driver doesn't participate in the chorus, the activity can serve as a distraction and may even prevent them from hearing nearby car horns or emergency vehicles.
  • Passing or reaching for items. Drivers can easily be distracted by others in the vehicle who may be passing food or drinks, cell phones, or CDs. Passengers may inadvertently bump the driver or create a blind spot in the rear or side-view mirrors. Keep in mind, even just 2 seconds of a driver's taking his or her eyes off the road can cause an accident.
  • Normal conversation. While it may not be realistic to avoid conversations in a car, the driver should always keep their attention on the road and driving. That means avoiding looking at the other person in the car while talking. This may be difficult for someone taught to make "eye contact " when carrying on a conversation.

The Role of Distraction in Vehicle Accidents

Who hasn't seen commercials or public service announcements explaining the dangers of distracted driving? There is enough data and information available today that the case can be made that distracted driving is a form of negligence. While parents may have felt they have appropriately discussed cellphone use with young drivers, they should also address how passengers in a car can play a role.

Those who have been injured in an automobile accident where the cause has been determined to be some form of distracted driving may have legal recourse, including financial compensation. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in motor vehicle accidents, including the many causes of distracted driving, can be extremely beneficial.

Distracted driving goes far beyond cell phone use. Get the legal assistance you deserve in researching all the potential causes and responsible parties.

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