The risk of a car crash doubles when drivers are distracted, reports a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was conducted by researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Accidents caused by distracted driving are a nationwide problem – one which claims innocent lives on a daily basis. Now, researchers shed some light on distractions that are riskier than others.
Crash data analysis on driver distractions
The researchers examined data from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study, which featured more than 3,500 study participants across six data collection sites. The study included over 1,600 crash events. Among other findings, the researchers determined that one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving is purely psychological in nature. The risk of a crash increased nearly ten-fold when the driver was angry, upset or otherwise emotionally distraught.
Other activities that significantly increased the risk of crashes included reaching for a handheld cellphone, reaching for any other object, using touchscreen menus associated with in-car technology, and reading or writing. The researchers also confirmed that the youngest of drivers were the most likely to engage in these distracting activities.
Surprisingly, the study revealed that a few factors long thought to significantly increase the risk of a crash actually had minimal impact. Following too closely and applying makeup while driving were not widely prevalent crash causes in this particular study.
Study authors hope to advance countermeasures
“We have known for years that driver-related factors exist in a high percentage of crashes, but this is the first time we have been able to definitively determine — using high-severity, crash-only events that total more than 900–the extent to which such factors do contribute to crashes,” said lead study author Tom Dingus, the director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Dingus also noted that unless countermeasures are taken to curb the prevalence of distracted driving, the next generation of young drivers will only be at an even higher risk of crashes.
According to Dingus, the researchers hope that by shedding light on the weightiness of individual risk factors, other entities will be able to create countermeasures to improve the safety of everyone on the road. Drivers, educators, policymakers, vehicle designers, and law enforcement officers may find this information helpful for proactively reducing crashes.
Legal rights of South Carolina victims
Victims of car accidents caused by distracted and otherwise negligent drivers have the right to legal recourse. However, there are time limits for pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. To determine if litigation is an appropriate course of action for obtaining compensation, you must contact an experienced lawyer as quickly as possible.
South Carolina car accident attorney Michael Jeffcoat has made it his life’s work to assist victims of car crashes and their families. Residents of Lexington, Columbia, Richland Counties and beyond can contact The Jeffcoat Firm at (803) 200-2000 to schedule a free consultation.