The dangers of distracted driving – particularly driving while using cellphones for texting or talking – are well documented. Our distracted driving accident attorneys in South Carolina have read many scientific studies showing that people who use their cellphones while driving pose a serious threat to the safety of everyone sharing the road – including other drivers and their passengers, motorcycle riders, bicyclists and pedestrians. We know how devastating these accidents can be, because we have handled many cases involving victims who were injured by distracted drivers. One well-known study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Previous studies have compared the dangers of texting while driving to driving drunk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving a car while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. And a real-world test conducted by “Car and Driver” found that drivers have much slower reaction time when they are texting while driving than when they are under the influence of alcohol.
Now, a new study reveals just often drivers are distracted, whether they’re eating, reaching for a phone, texting or doing something else that takes their eyes off the road.
How Often Are Drivers Distracted While Behind-The-Wheel?
According to Medical Daily, research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Virginia Tech indicates that drivers perform other tasks – primarily texting while driving – up to ten percent of their time spent behind-the-wheel.
In two independent studies, scientists used video cameras and in-vehicle sensors to track the regular driving habits of adult and teen drivers. The first year-long, 100 vehicle study included adult drivers with an average of 20 years’ experience. The second study focused on 42 teens who held a valid license for less than three weeks.
In one particularly alarming finding, the study revealed that newly licensed drivers initially engaged in secondary tasks less frequently than adult drivers. But after six months, the young drivers’ risky behaviors increased. And during months 16 through 18, they engaged in more secondary tasks than the experienced drivers. They increased their risky behavior by twofold during the last three months of the study.
Secondary tasks weren’t limited to texting and driving, according to Medical Daily. Other forms of distracted driving included phone-based tasks such as reaching for a phone or dialing a number; eating; drinking; and adjusting the car’s radio, temperature controls, mirrors, or seatbelts.
South Carolina City Aims To Crack Down On Distracted Driving
ABC 13 recently reported that the city of Greenville could become the latest South Carolina city to ban cell phone use while driving. The City Council was set to hold a public hearing on the proposed ban in mid-January.
Greenville’s proposed ban would prohibit all drivers from using hand-held devices while behind the wheel. If caught texting or talking on the phone, ABC 13 indicates that offenders would be subjected to a $100 fine for each offense and third-time offenders could have their phones confiscated by a judge.
Currently, South Carolina is one of only a handful of states that has not passed statewide legislation banning drivers from texting while driving or prohibiting drivers under 18 from using a hand-held device. In contrast, 41 states, plus the District of Columbia, ban text messaging for all drivers. Twelve states have passed legislation that makes hand-held phone use a primary offense for all drivers.
With study after study finding that talking and texting behind-the-wheel are extremely dangerous practices, it’s encouraging to read about communities in South Carolina that are taking action to protect the people who use their roads.