You may already have accustomed yourself to occasionally taking your eyes off the road while you’re at the wheel. If nothing bad has ever happened to you while driving distracted, then it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. You’re only human, after all.

But since you’re human, you’re also bound to make mistakes. And sadly, one of the easiest mistakes you can make in a moving vehicle is also one of the most dangerous. That’s why you must never forget what your car or truck is: over one ton of solid metal. If it’s traveling at 55 mph, it will cover the length of an entire football field in just over 11 seconds. That much potential for destruction demands your undivided attention at all times!


Distracted Driving Kills

Over 3,000 people die in the United States each year because of distracted drivers. Distracted driving alone accounts for almost 9% of fatal vehicle collisions in our country.

Those statistics include both victims and perpetrators of distracted driving. The tragedy for the victims and their families is too great for the breadth of the article. We would rather draw attention to the fact that anyone can destroy lives by taking their attention off the road for even an instant.

In 2015, a 17-year-old girl was texting when she drove her pickup truck into a father and his 10-year-old daughter, killing both. In 2016, a chief executive at a non-profit organization specializing in helping troubled youths was texting when she drove her Mercedes-Benz into a scientist, killing her. Despite their very different backgrounds, both of those drivers are now serving lengthy prison sentences and will live with their guilt forever.


What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is just that – doing anything other than driving while you’re at the wheel. Here are the most common types of driving distractions that destroy lives every day.

Using cell phones. Texting is a common cause of distracted driving. Over 400 vehicular fatalities in 2020 were caused by drivers while they were using their phones. Merely talking on a phone while you’re driving is inherently dangerous, as studies have shown that hands-free phones are just as distracting as hand-held ones. As important as your calls are, nothing you could say is more important than people’s lives.

Interacting with passengers. Most vehicle crashes caused by teenagers resulted from distracted driving. Of those crashes, 15% were attributable to the drivers talking to or otherwise interacting with their passengers. But teenagers don’t deserve all the blame for this type of distracted driving. Arguing, sharing food, kissing, and just turning your head to look at your passenger are all intensely dangerous actions no matter your maturity level.

Interacting with pets. A man and his dog were responsible for what is arguably the most publicized case of distracted driving in human history. June 19th, 1999 should have been just another normal day for Bryan Smith. He was driving his van when he noticed that Bullet, his rottweiler, was getting into his cooler. Smith veered into Stephen King during that distraction. The novelist survived the ordeal after spending three weeks in the hospital and undergoing five operations.

Moving objects. We all instinctively reach out to catch falling objects. It’s why kitchen workers must learn that falling knives have no handles. Try to repress your reflexes while you’re driving, too, as many crashes are caused by drivers while they’re attempting to stop something from sliding off the passenger seat.

Adjusting controls. Rearview mirrors. Adjustable seats. Air conditioner knobs. Navigation system. A vehicle’s interior almost seems like it is designed to draw its driver’s attention away from what’s happening beyond the windshield. None of those features require operation while the vehicle is moving. Please treat them as such.

Rubbernecking. It’s a silly name for a serious problem that causes 10 to 16% of all auto accidents. Many rubbernecking accidents are only fender benders, as they commonly occur at low speed during traffic jams. Still, rubberneckers are accountable for a significant number of fatal accidents.


Distracted Driving Can Raise Your Insurance Premium

Even if it doesn’t result in death or personal injury, distracted driving could still cost you. If you were distracted during a collision that damages someone else’s personal property, that can constitute a negligent act in civil court. When you’re determined to be at-fault for an accident – for any reason – your automobile insurance premium is almost guaranteed to go up. Bankrate estimates the average increase at 42%.

Iowa is an at-fault auto insurance state. That means whomever is legally responsible for a collision is also liable for the costs of any resultant property damage and personal injuries. In other words, minimizing your risk of causing an accident isn’t enough to ensure your financial security. That peace of mind can only come from purchasing car insurance, which is why we welcome you to contact The Hoffman Agency today!