Have you ever texted, spoken on the phone, changed radio stations, or even turned around to talk to passengers while driving? If so, you may be exposing yourself, your passengers, and anybody else on the road to harm. Driver distractions such as these accounted for 10 percent of all fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
And of these hazards, cellphones and text messaging were the most common cause of accidents. However, other common habits, such as using a vehicle navigation system, eating and drinking, reading a map, grooming yourself, or even having a phone conversation using a hands-free device can be hazardous, too.
Not only is distracted driving dangerous for individuals, but there is a growing concern among business owners and managers that they may be held liable for accidents caused by their employees while driving and conducting work-related conversations on cellphones. Under the doctrine of “vicarious responsibility,” employers may be held legally accountable for the negligent acts of employees committed in the course of employment. Employers may also be found negligent if they fail to put in place a policy for the safe use of cellphones.
Keep these safety tips in mind when driving:
While everyone should follow these rules, it is particularly important to review them carefully with teen drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year olds, and in 2012, 10 percent of all drivers in that age group involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash, according to NHTSA. Talk to your teen about safe driving habits and, most importantly, model good behavior on the road. And for more information on distracted driving, see our Distracted Driving backgrounder.
Source: Insurance Information Institute; www.iii.org