The New York Daily News recently reported the tragic story of a 20-year-old “Facebook fanatic” perusing the social media site while speeding along a highway. According to law enforcement sources, the woman was both texting and checking Facebook photos instead of looking at the road ahead. As a result, she failed to see a vehicle ahead slow in order to make a turn. The Facebook aficionado slammed into the vehicle ahead killing an 89-year-old passenger. In many instances, distracted driving accidents are caused by talking on a cellphone, manipulating an electronic device or texting while driving.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, at least 387,000 people are injured each year in distracted driving crashes while thousands lose their lives. These are conservative estimates. The New York Daily News reports that the number of distracted driving accidents appears to be underreported thereby making the problem look less significant than it is. Many drivers who cause an accident will not confess to being distracted and those who die at the scene cannot confirm or deny whether they were distracted. A significant part of today’s distracted driving problem is that too many Americans believe they can successfully multitask by driving and using a cellphone simultaneously.
In a recent article published in The New Yorker Magazine, it is reported that research has revealed that there are some of us who can-possibly-drive and do other things at the same time. The bad news is that these truly remarkable multitaskers constitute only about two percent of the population. The sad truth is that 98 percent of us simply cannot safely drive and use a cellphone at the same time. The attempt to do so leads to slowed reaction time and decreased attention to the point where the typical person misses more than half of the things they should see. A researcher interviewed for the article bluntly stated that when the typical person tries to drive, deal with road conditions and use a cellphone, the brain cannot cope with the overload since it is just not made that way.
The “selfie” distraction
A Ford Motor Company sponsored survey reveals that one in four young people in Europe have taken a “selfie” while driving. This is viewed as “a highly distracting activity.” Moreover, nearly half of young drivers admit to having used their smartphone to snap a photograph while behind the wheel. A Ford spokesperson acknowledges that taking a selfie on a smartphone has become an integral part of everyday life for many people. However, it is the last thing one should do behind the wheel of a car.
According to Ford, snapping a “selfie” behind the wheel can distract a driver for 14 to 20 seconds. The New York Governor’s Safety Committee notes that taking one’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles the risk of a crash or near crash. While no U.S. surveys have been done on taking selfies while driving, the Dailydot.com website notes that anecdotal evidence suggests that snapping selfies behind the wheel is a problem in America. It is observed that the hashtag #Driving has over 3.8 million entries on Instagram-many of them taken by a driver.
Seeking legal counsel
There is no excuse for distracted-driving behaviors such as texting and taking selfies. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a distracted motor vehicle driver, you should contact a New York attorney experienced in handling motor vehicle accident cases which resulted in personal injury.