Is Distracted Driving More Hazardous Than Drunk Driving?

A woman applies make-up, talks on the phone, and drinks coffee while driving

The dangers of drunk driving are well known, and most people go out of their way to make sure they don’t drive while intoxicated. However, there is another menace on the road that seems to be even more dangerous – distracted driving. The car accident lawyers at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, providing services throughout eastern Pennsylvania, have extensive experience handling claims for victims who have been injured in distracted driving crashes. Knowing what you’re up against can help you understand why distracted driving is so dangerous and encourage you to stay vigilant when you’re behind the wheel.

Distracted Driving Vs. Drunk Driving

A study by Car and Driver magazine showed that texting and driving is significantly more hazardous than driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The study analyzed and compared the length of time it took drivers to react when sober, legally intoxicated (0.08 BAC), sending a text, and reading an email.

The results showed that texting affected the driver’s reaction time the most. As opposed to driving while sober and undistracted, when intoxicated the driver traveled four additional feet before braking, 36 additional feet while reading an email, and 70 more feet when texting.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that driving while texting is six times more dangerous than driving drunk. Reading or sending a text takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds. Although it might not seem like a lot, at 55 mph, it’s the same as driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Distracted Driving Causes Thousands Of Injuries And Deaths Each Year

Personal injury lawyers often help families cope with the repercussions of crashes caused by distracted drivers. Serious injuries and fatalities can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating to victims and their loved ones.

Statistics on injuries and fatalities are even more sobering. In 2020, there were 3,142 fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports that distracted driving was the cause of 11,019 crashes and 43 fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways in 2020. Using a smartphone or other devices while driving simply isn’t worth the potential deaths and injuries it can cause.

Types Of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving involves anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand. Manual distractions occur when you take your hands off the wheel. Visual distractions happen when you look away from the road, and cognitive distractions involve your mind wandering from the task of driving. Texting or checking email while driving involves all three types of distractions, which makes it even more dangerous than distractions like eating and drinking, fiddling with controls or the radio, putting on makeup, or talking to passengers in the car.

Distracted Driving Laws In Pennsylvania

Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code prohibits motorists from using “an interactive wireless communication device to send, read, or write a text-based communication while the car is in motion.” This includes cell phones, tablets, computers, and any similar device that can be used for texting, emailing, instant messaging, using social media, or browsing the internet. Wearing headphones or earphones while driving also is forbidden in Pennsylvania.

How Distracted Driving Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

A ticket for texting and driving in Pennsylvania carries a $50 fine, but the costs may go well beyond that when you’re involved in a crash. Even if you were in a collision that wasn’t your fault, if the opposing party says your attention was diverted by texting or another distraction, their insurer or car accident lawyer could claim that you contributed to the accident. This can significantly reduce the amount of damages you’re entitled to recover or prevent you from obtaining any compensation at all if it is found that you are more than 50% responsible for the accident.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to avoid distracted driving at all costs and move away as soon as you can if you see other motorists texting and driving. If you are injured in a crash, seeking the counsel of an experienced car accident lawyer can help to ensure your rights are protected.

Contact An Experienced Car Accident Attorney

At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, we care about our clients. Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling distracted driving injury claims. We’re dedicated to helping your family recover and move on with your lives after an accident. Call us at 610-867-2900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our car accident lawyers serve clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania.


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