Due to the pandemic, Americans drove 13% fewer miles last year. Despite the decrease in traffic, an estimated 42,060 people died in vehicle crashes in 2020, an 8% increase over 2019.

Alarmingly, the fatality rate per 100 million miles driven spiked 24%. This represents the largest annual percentage increase since 1923 when the National Safety Council began tracking such data.

Driving is down, but accidents are up.

How can these seemingly contradictory statistics be explained?

Less crowded roads may be seen by some as an open invitation to increase one’s pace. Speeding is up 27% during the pandemic, but that alone doesn’t account for the surge in accidents. Distracted driving also played a significant role. The latest distraction involves the outrageous act of Zooming while driving.

Videoconferencing services became popular during the pandemic. Unfortunately, some users of the technology took it – and the danger of distractions – on the road with them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides distractions into three categories:

  • visual - taking your eyes off the road
  • manual - taking your hands off the wheel
  • cognitive - taking your mind off driving

Zooming while driving is particularly problematic because it involves all three types of distractions. Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles the odds of a crash. Now imagine how long zooming can distract you.

Other distractions

The Highway HiFi, a mobile record player introduced by Chrysler in 1956, is cited as one of the early examples of a device that could take a driver’s attention off the road. Over the years, the list of driver distractions has grown to include such activities as:

  • smoking
  • changing radio stations
  • eating
  • rubbernecking
  • shaving
  • talking on phone
  • texting
  • adjusting temperature
  • applying makeup
  • adjusting mirrors
  • searching for an object
  • reaching for an object
  • putting on or taking off clothing
  • reading

Remember, when driving keep your eyes and your mind on the road and your hands on the wheel. Taking your eyes off the road for as little as 4.6 seconds at 55mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field, blindfolded. Stay aware, stay safe.

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, call the personal injury attorneys at Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn at (800) 760-1529 or find us online at www.HKQLaw.com.

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