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Driving While "Semi-Distracted": A Contributor to Thousands of Car Accidents?

Mellino Law Firm

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and organizations like the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) continue to sound the alarm regarding the dangers of distracted driving.

Studies out of the University of Utah, for instance, have demonstrated that driving while chatting on a cell phone (even with a handsfree headset) can be profoundly distracting. Another study from Virginia Tech found that truckers who texted while driving were over 20 times more likely than their non-texting peers to get into collisions.

As more and more cars come equipped with digital and social media technologies, many industry experts worry that we may soon see an epidemic of distracted driving accidents leading to thousands of additional road causalities annually.

Of course, distracted driving is an obvious danger. But what about semi-distracted driving? Could sort-of-distracted-but-not-totally behavior play a role in a sizable number of accidents?

For instance, a study out of Australia recently found that going without sleep for a full 24 hours reduces driver reaction time so much that the driver becomes as uncoordinated as someone a driver who’s DUI (blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%). So what happens when you only sleep five hours a night? What about six hours a night? Shouldn’t any suboptimal amount of sleep contribute, at least in a small way, to accidents?

Likewise, what if you’re not talking or texting on the cell phone but rather reviewing emails in your head? This type of distraction might seem less lethal than texting your friend. But when you aggregate the hundreds of thousands of hours of “semi distracted” driving that occurs, it’s likely that such subtle behavior plays a role in many crashes.

If you want insight into a recent crash that you suspect involved a distracted driver, contact our experienced car accident attorneys today for a free consultation.

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