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Study reveals how worryingly common distracted driving is

Most Missouri drivers know that typing out a text message or checking social media feeds while behind the wheel can be extremely dangerous, but they may not be aware that hands-free devices and sophisticated automobile infotainment systems can be just as distracting. Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road ahead has the potential to cause an accident, and this includes using voice commands to control communications, entertainment and information technology. According to a researcher from Liberty Mutual Insurance, features that allow multitasking behind the wheel can be especially dangerous because they encourage drivers to overestimate their abilities.

The researcher came to this conclusion after helping the insurer conduct a study of driving habits in the US and Western Europe, the results of which make for sobering reading. Almost 9 out of 10 of the millennials surveyed said that they use their cell phones while driving, and they were also more likely than other demographic groups to admit using the devices to perform highly distracting tasks like watching videos, reading and writing text messages and checking social media websites.

Despite this finding, virtually all the Americans and Europeans polled said that they considered themselves to be capable and safe drivers. They also tended to be highly critical of behavior in other drivers of which they admitted to being frequently guilty themselves. When asked why they routinely risked the safety of other road users, the respondents often made excuses, such as being late for work or an appointment or encountering unexpected traffic.

Police reports often do not reveal whether an auto accident was caused by distraction, which is why experienced personal injury attorneys may use subpoenas to obtain cell phone and internet usage records when their clients have been injured by a driver who was not paying attention. Lawyers could also collect the information that’s kept on automobile data recorders as it could reveal how a car was being driven when it crashed.