Distracted driving causes car accidents that put people in the hospital. These individuals could include the distracted drivers themselves, passengers in their cars, people in other cars that they hit, or cyclists and pedestrians around the crash site. All of these accidents are preventable and, in that sense, are far too common.
In 2020, most states have distracted driving laws on the books and most drivers have at least been informed that it’s a risk. When you look at statistics, you can see how common it is. Changes to laws and efforts by police aim to decrease those numbers.
Even so, the truth is that distracted driving, as much as it is already an epidemic, may be even more common than many people realize. Here are a few reasons why:
One issue is that a lot of studies rely on self-reporting. One study asked parents if they would use the phone while driving with their own kids in the car, for instance, and many reported that they did. One out of three would text and drive, for instance, while more than half would talk on the phone.
As bad as that sounds, the researchers noted that self-reporting could mean under-reporting. Would some parents refuse to admit it, even if they did it? Or would they rationalize it by thinking that they just did it occasionally, so they didn’t need to admit it? In Fatherly, the researchers claimed that “it’s entirely possible the number of parents engaging in distracted driving because of their phones is even higher.”
2. Multiple distractions
Another potential issue with the data is that drivers may only report on things like cellphone use. While that is a serious distraction, they actually face many more. Examples include getting lost in thought, looking at road signs, looking at other cars or accidents, changing the radio station, talking to children, talking to passengers, and eating or drinking in the car. Many drivers who swear they never get distracted may actually just mean they stay off of the phone, which is only part of the problem.
3. Accident-based reporting
Finally, you see many reports talking about distraction after accidents. They’ll make claims about distracted driving taking X number of lives during the year, for instance. The problem here is that those claims only look at proven cases. How many accidents happen where the police don’t realize distraction played a role or where the at-fault driver puts their phone away and denies getting distracted? We can never know for sure.
What is clear is that distracted driving is a huge issue in Pennsylvania and all over the country. If you get into an accident with one of these drivers, you must know what options you have.