Everyone seems to be texting these days as they walk down the street, through the stores and even at work. Texting in these moments can result in accidents, but the most serious consequences just may come from drivers who are distracted by their phones and other devices while driving.
Some of the most common ways in which people drive while distracted is to do any of the following:
• Send text messages
• Put on make-up
• Read the newspaper
• Look up directions
• Neglect to turn on their turn signals
The Result of Paying More Attention to the Phone than the Road
Sending text messages or talking on the telephone is not a harmless activity. It can have dangerous results when people are paying more attention to their telephones than they are to the conditions on the road. According to Ray LaHood Secretary of the Department of Transportation, a full 5,500 deaths resulted from distracted driving in the country in 2009, and around 450,000 injuries resulted from distracted driving as well.
The United States Transportations Secretary also states that it only takes a couple of seconds for drivers to endanger themselves and others while they are distracted. If drivers take their eyes off of the road for this small amount of time, they have the potential to cause a collision or be incapable of preventing one. This can occur if they are practicing bad habits, such as focusing on their telephones or the GPS rather than what is going on in front of them.
A Deadly Car Crash in Missouri
One example of the devastating consequences of texting while driving comes from a driver who was killed in Missouri. This collision resulted in a pile up that included the victim’s pickup truck, a tractor and two school buses. Along with the driver of the pickup truck, a student on one of the school buses also died in the crash. A total of 38 people were killed on the Missouri highway that day in 2010.
Teens and Distracted Driving
One of the groups most susceptible to the negative consequences of distracted driving is teenage drivers. Teen drivers are already high risk drivers because they have limited experience on the roads. They are less likely to be able to avoid collisions because of their inexperience, and they pass away during car collisions at a greater rate than drivers of other demographics.
The NHTSA, State Farm and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a joint study in which they discovered that drunken driving-related deaths amongst teens are lower. At the same time, this study illuminated the fact that teen deaths overall did not decrease. Because distracted driving amongst the teen population has been increasing, the numbers of car crash-related teen deaths has remained the same.
Other Consequences of Distracted Driving
Death is not the only consequence of distracted driving. Car collisions due to distracted driving can result in injuries that will follow the victims for the rest of their lives. Some of the most common and devastating injuries are to the brain and the head. These injuries are commonly known as concussions with the most severe examples being diagnosed as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This type of injury results as the brain becomes bruised after being forced against the skull during the collision.
Drivers or passengers suffering from a concussion may experience headaches, nausea, amnesia or ringing of the ears. They may feel confused or lose consciousness altogether, and they may experience memory loss. Victims of TBI may begin to suffer from epilepsy. If they experience subsequent brain injuries, the victims run an increased risk of developing more and more serious cognitive symptoms that become permanent.