Stats Show Michigan Drivers Are Increasingly Operating While Distracted

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Cell Phone, Text Messaging, and Social Media Among Top Driver Distractions

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Statistics Show Michigan Drivers Are Increasingly Operating While Distracted

Each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes reported to involve a distracted driver, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. And Michigan drivers are heavily contributing to the bad driving behavior trend. University of Michigan researchers, using Michigan State Police traffic crash reports, concluded there were 5,237 accidents, including 23 fatal crashes, caused by drivers who were using some sort of electronic device in 2017. Even more alarming, the preventable crash cause tallied twice as high as drunk driving incidences across the state the same year.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is driving while doing any other activity that takes your attention away from safely operating a vehicle. The preventable action can highly increase the chance of causing a dangerous crash.

There are three main types of distracted driving:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
  3. Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Distracting activities can include:

  • Changing the radio station
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Talking to passengers including pets
  • Tending to children in car seats
  • Using a cell phone to upload to social media and/or messaging
    • As of July 1, 2010, Michigan law prohibits texting while driving.
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Managing in-vehicle technologies

The motor vehicle accident attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm recently took a deeper look into the issue in relation to the state’s urban hubs and heavily populated communities and revealed the highest number of distracted driving related crashes occur in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Bloomfield Township in Oakland County, Lansing, and Sterling Heights.

Cell Phone, Text Messaging, and Social Media Rank High Among Top Driver Distractions

Over the last five years, distracted driving continues to grow as an epidemic around the world, Michigan included. And a growing number of distracted driving accidents are caused each year by electronic devices such as cell phones, mostly from drivers who are texting or using social media channels when they should be focused on the road. Using a phone to text or send messages, upload photos or watch videos while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction mentioned above. The latest statistics (2017) provided by Michigan’s Traffic Crash Reporting System and Office of Highway Safety Planning speaks volumes about how big the cell phone distraction problem has become.

  • A total of 25 pedestrians and nine bicyclists were reported to be using cell phones when involved in their accident.
  • Of the 25 pedestrians using a cell phone, three were killed, six suffered a suspected serious injury, ten suffered a suspected minor injury, and five suffered a possible injury.
  • Of the motor vehicle drivers using cell phones, 618 (20.1%) were 20 years of age or younger.
  • There were 1,490 (48.1%) rear-end crashes where a driver was using a cell phone.
  • Of the total 3,099 crashes involving cell phone use, 609 (19.7%) also involved a lane departure.
  • Of the total 3,099 crashes involving cell phone use, 1,236 (39.9%) were intersection related.
  • There were 3,076 motor vehicle drivers using a cell phone in crashes: 2,713 passenger cars, 292 pickup trucks, 28 trucks or buses over 10,000 lbs., 11 small trucks under 10,000 lbs., ten vans or motor homes, one motorcycle, four vehicle types coded as “other,” and 17 uncoded and errors.

Michigan State Police offer these easy suggestions on how to avoid becoming a distracted driver and staying focused on the task at hand.

  • Get familiar with vehicle features and equipment before pulling out into traffic.
  • Preset radio stations, MP3 devices, and climate control.
  • Secure items that may move around when the car is in motion. Do not reach down or behind the seat to pick up items.
  • Do not text, access the Internet, watch videos, play video games, search MP3 devices, or use any other distracting technology while driving.
  • Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, and reading while driving.
  • Pull safely off the road and out of traffic to deal with children.
  • Do personal grooming at home – not in the vehicle.
  • Review maps and driving directions before hitting the road.
  • Monitor traffic conditions before engaging in activities that could divert attention away from driving.
  • Ask a passenger to help with activities that may be distracting.
  • If driving long distances, schedule regular stops; every 100 miles or two hours.
  • Travel at times when you are normally awake and stay overnight rather than driving straight through.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that may make you drowsy.

Everyone should be practicing good driving behaviors such as operating patient, sober, and alert to greatly reduce all road users’ motor vehicle accident risk. In February of 2019, Governor Whitmer endorsed a bill expanding Michigan’s texting-while-driving laws to push less opportunity for hands-free driving. The bill would make it illegal to read emails and send messages over social media while driving but does not restrict adult Michigan drivers from talking and listening on their phones while driving.

While we await the passage of increased texting-while-driving laws, please share this blog post and our video with your network. Help us spread the word that driving while distracted is not the choice to make and those that cause an accident due to that choice should be held fully responsible.

Contact Us Now About Your Distracted Driving Accident Injury

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle crash and believe it was caused by someone else’s poor driving decision such as driving while distracted, the accident injury attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm are ready to support your claim. Not only can a personal injury lawsuit help ease financial burdens, it can help create awareness to prevent driver errors that pose serious risks to road users every single day. Please call and speak to our car accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.

Source: Michigan Traffic Crash Facts website maintained by University of Michigan