You undoubtedly know that it’s dangerous to text or talk on a cell phone while driving. More and more information is emerging about the dangers of fatigued driving. You see warnings about the risks of drunk driving everywhere from your high school driver’s ed classroom to billboards on the highway. Most of the common causes of New York traffic accidents are well known.
In fact, there are probably few surprises on this list of most common causes of New York motor vehicle accidents, assembled by the Auto Insurance Center:
- Driver inattention / distraction
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Fatigued / drowsy driving
- Other vehicular
- Backing unsafely
- Lost consciousness
- Turning improperly
- Prescription medication
- Driver inexperience
- Slippery pavement
The Surprising Cause of Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries
18.5% of accidents caused by distracted drivers involve injuries. But, that rate increases dramatically for a particular type of distraction. It’s not using mobile devices, eating, drinking, smoking, or any of the distractions drivers are routinely warned about. It’s distraction by passengers in the vehicle.
More than 2/3 of New York car accidents caused by passenger distraction result in injuries.
Why Do Passengers Present Such a Risk?
One reason passengers contribute to so many accidents is simply that it’s very common to have passengers in the car. Even drivers who would never consider speeding, using a mobile device while driving, or drinking a cup of coffee on the road tend to think nothing of conversing with others in the car.
Distraction is a significant issue. One study showed that nearly half of teen girls and nearly ¾ of teen boys involved in accidents reported having been distracted by a physical movement of a passenger. And, in a UK study, drivers revealed that:
- They had more trouble following directions and were more likely to take a wrong turn with passengers in the car
- 84% had more trouble parking with a passengers in the car
- 70% said they were more likely to stall with a passenger in the car
- A significant number identified partners (32%) and children (23%) as a key source of stress while driving
But, studies involving teenaged drivers suggest that passengers can impact driving risk in many ways, not just by creating a distraction. For example, one study found that the mere sense of being watched by peers impacted teen driving, even if the passengers weren’t engaging in any distracting behaviors. Another revealed that teenage male drivers involved in accidents were more likely to have been driving aggressively immediately before the crash if they had teenage passengers in the car than if they were driving alone. And, they were six times as likely to have made an illegal maneuver before the crash.
Avoid Distracted Driving Dangers
While it’s not realistic for most drivers to avoid having passengers, taking precautions can help avoid injury-causing accidents. For example:
- Give younger / newer drivers an opportunity to gain experience and get comfortable behind the wheel before sending them out to chauffeur peers around
- Don’t be shy about letting passengers know if their actions are distracting you in the vehicle, or asking them to be quiet if you need to focus in heavy traffic or while attempting to follow directions, parallel park, or perform some other task that requires concentration
- If you are a passenger, be conscious of the driver’s need to pay attention and avoid obvious distractions such as significant movement around the vehicle, sudden loud noises, or demanding the driver’s attention
If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver, Get Help
In most cases, distracted driving is negligent driving. When a driver has been distracted by something outside his or her control, the person causing the distraction may be responsible. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, a New York car accident lawyer can be your best resource. Why not schedule a free consultation right now?