Identifying Distracted Driving Behaviors Can Save Your Life

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Every day, approximately nine people die and over 1,000 people are injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. Research shows that accidents are up to eight times more likely to happen when a driver is distracted. With a probability that high and actual occurrences that shocking, learning how to spot a distracted driver and stay safe can save your life. If you have been involved in an accident where a distracted driver was involved, get in touch with a California car accident attorney. You may have a case against the errant driver.

What is Distracted Driving?

While a lot of attention is given to the use of mobile devices while driving, distracted driving is actually much broader than that. A 2012 study conducted by the US Department of Transport’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that the most common distracted driving activities drivers engaged in on the road were:

  • Making phone calls
  • Receiving phone calls
  • Changing radio stations
  • Searching for CDs
  • Dealing with children in the back seat
  • Personal grooming such as combing hair or applying makeup
  • Reading printed materials
  • Using wireless internet to network socially or send emails
  • Using GPS

Here are some alarming takeaways from the study:

  • From the nationwide representative sample studied, 48% of the drivers reported answering their phones while driving. Of these, 58% continued to drive while talking on phone.
  • 24% of the drivers were willing to initiate a call while driving.
  • 10% of the drivers admitted to sending texts and emails while driving.
  • Overall, 33% of drivers were classified as distraction prone with little difference between both genders.  
  • The likelihood of being distraction prone was higher in younger drivers (up to 64%) and lower in older drivers (as low as 5%).
  • Drivers of SUVs had the highest distraction prone score at 38.6%, followed by regular cars at 36.3%, vans and minivans at 34%, large trucks at 33.7% and pickup trucks at 31.9%.
  • Drivers from the south had the highest distracted driver percentage at 38.4% closely followed by drivers from the west coast at 36.5%.  

Common Behaviors of Distracted Drivers

Understanding what a distracted driver looks like can help you drive in a more defensive manner and hopefully, avoid injury. These are common distracted driver behaviors:

  • Slow driving – Up to 21% of distraction prone drivers admitted to driving slower.
  • Losing awareness of the road – Up to 24% of distraction prone drivers admitted to losing awareness of their surroundings.
  • Swerving out the lanes or roadways – Up to 10.9% of distraction prone drivers admitted to drifting out of their lanes or roadways.

Other common behaviors of distracted drivers include:

  • Applying breaks suddenly
  • Looking frequently into the rear and side view mirrors
  • Driving erratically
  • Using the turn signal less frequently
  • Stopping way longer at intersections
  • Avoiding lane changes altogether
  • Following lead vehicles more closely

What to Do after Spotting a Distracted Driver

  • Assume the driver does not see you
  • Create space between yourself and the distracted driver
  • Either pull ahead or slow down to let the distracted driver pull ahead
  • If you cannot get away from the driver, pull over and call 911.

California banned the use of handheld mobile devices while driving. If you have been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, talk to a California personal injury attorney at J&Y Law today for a free consultation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.