Distracted Driving is Going to Cost Us All in 2016

A reported distracted driving accident in Gastonia on Interstate-85 resulted in serious injuries when a driver on her cell phone reportedly crashed into a stopped semi-truck on the side of the highway. Money in hand

The truck had just been in a crash in which another vehicle tried to merge into the same lane and the two collided. The two occupants of the smaller car in that accident suffered minor injuries, and they stopped alongside the shoulder, as did the truck. A few minutes later, the distracted driver reportedly slammed into the back of the semi. Authorities say there was no evidence the woman even attempted to brake before the collision. She was reportedly trying to make a phone call. Police don’t believe speed or impairment were factors. Driver suffered serious injuries and was air-lifted to a hospital in Charlotte.

Although North Carolina law prohibits drivers from texting while driving – including entering multiple numbers and letters into a phone while the vehicle is in motion – it continues to be a serious problem. It’s expected that car insurance premiums may go up this year with an uptick in such crashes. 

Warren Buffet, a billionaire investor, said that Geico, a large auto insurance company owned by one of his companies, is in the process of adjusting its underwriting process as drivers have steadily become more reckless. As a result, he said, premiums are likely to go up this year.

Geico wouldn’t comment on that statement, but we do know, per federal statistics, that accident rates overall climbed 8 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Even though motor vehicles have theoretically become safer – with more systems that alert to an imminent crash or even automatically brake for the driver – the number of accidents still went up. Part of the issue, safety advocates say, is the fact that the economy has improved, so more people on the road. The average number of miles driven by Americans was up 3.5 percent last year, according to the Department of Transportation.

But there are other issues at play. Buffet said that first of all, safer cars have given drivers a false sense of security; they view it as a license to be more careless. Secondly, drivers in general are bombarded with more distractions than ever. With smart phones, people are expected to be in communication at all times – with work, family members and other obligations.

Vehicle deaths increased more in 2015 than they had in the past 50 years, according to the National Safety Council, which indicated more than 38,000 people in the U.S. lost their lives in traffic accidents. On top of that, another 4.4 million people were critically injured.

The economic cost for those losses, the NSC estimates, was more than $412 billion in 2015.

Although there are many forms of distraction, cell phones are believed to be the biggest problem. AAA released a survey last month indicating 70 percent of drivers admitted to talking on their cell phone while driving in the last 30 days. Fifty percent said they had read a text while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 3,000 motor vehicle deaths each year are directly attributable to distraction behind the wheel. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that is a low-ball figure.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Warren Buffett says distracted driving will cost drivers in 2016, March 2, 2016, By Kathleen Burke, Market Watch

More Blog Entries:

Study: Renters Pay More for Auto Insurance, Feb. 26, 2016, Charlotte Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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