According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over six million motor vehicle accidents resulting in more than 30,000 fatalities and 2.3 million injuries were reported to law enforcement officials across the U.S. in 2014. Making matters worse, preliminary statistics from the NHTSA reveal that traffic fatalities increased by an astounding 9.3 percent during the first nine months of 2015 versus the same timeframe in 2014.
While we would perhaps like to think that the majority of these crashes were attributed to causes beyond our control — inclement weather, road hazards, auto defects, etc. — the simple fact is that human error was likely the culprit.
If you don’t believe it, consider that previous studies have identified so-called “human factors” as contributing to 94 percent of all car crashes.
As further proof, consider a recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which determined that there is one bad habit that motorists still cannot seem to shake: distracted driving.
As part of a three-year study, researchers placed cameras and various other tracking equipment in over 3,500 vehicles and monitored the habits, close calls and accidents involving motorists ranging in age from 16 to 98.
They arrived at the following conclusions:
- Despite the fact that distracted driving increases the crash risk by more than double, well over 50 percent of the drivers still engaged in this conduct
- Over two-thirds of the drivers involved in accidents were distracted immediately beforehand
- While cellphones were the most common distraction, drivers were also guilty of taking their eyes off the road while reaching for objects, using a touchscreen, or even reading and writing
These findings are incredibly disappointing given everything we know about the dangers of distracted driving. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that those who engage in this reckless conduct behind the wheel and cause a serious — or even deadly — accident can be held accountable for their actions.