What’s the leading type of distracted driving in Arizona? Hint: It’s not texting
By Zachary Mushkatel on December 16, 2014
You might be surprised to learn that texting while driving is not the primary cause of thousands of car accidents in Arizona involving distracted driving, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
In fact, texting while driving is halfway down the “other” factors list in a DPS news release concerning more than 19,000 traffic stops and 2,400 collisions from January through mid-September 2014 blamed on distracted driving.
The DPS says the biggest driver distractions leading to collisions were:
- Distractions outside of the vehicle (393 crashes)
- Reaching for objects (238)
- Cell phone use (167)
The other distractors in order from most to least frequent were:
- Other occupants
- Other electronic media
- Eating or drinking
- Smoking or tobacco use.
Interestingly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that among the many forms of driver distraction, texting while driving was the “most alarming” because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver.
Arizona Distracted Driving Accidents
Though in Arizona there are apparently more prominent driver distraction factors than texting-while-driving, the caution about visual, manual, and cognitive distraction is still relevant.
Cell phone use was among the top causes of Arizona traffic stops for distracted driving. As the Phoenix New Times points out, people may have been using Twitter or Facebook (which requires the same attention as texting) to communicate with others.
“We all know that these devices (cell phones) are basically mobile computers … so there’s a lot more going on,” DPS spokesman Raul Garcia told the newspaper.
But it goes further than that. The New Times report points out yet another study in which cell phone use is the number two cause of driver distraction.
The study, an analysis of NHTSA numbers from 2010 and 2011 by Erie Insurance and reported by Forbes magazine, says most distracted drivers involved in fatal car accidents (62 percent) were “generally distracted or ‘lost in thought’ (daydreaming).” Cell phone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting) “came in at a distant second” at 12 percent.
Other factors causing distracted driving accidents on the list:
- Paying attention to an outside person, object or event
- Interacting with other vehicle occupants
- Using or reaching for a device in the vehicle, such as a portable GPS system or headphones
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting audio or climate controls
- Operating other in-vehicle devices, such as adjusting the rear view mirrors, seats, or using OEM navigation system
- Distraction within vehicle, such as an insect or unrestrained pet
- Smoking-related (smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in ashtray).
Regardless of how or why drivers are distracted, “[D]istracted driving mimics impaired driving behavior and can have deadly consequences. The ability of distracted drivers to perceive danger and successfully avoid common roadway hazards is greatly reduced.” If you have been in an accident in the Phoenix metro area, our car accident attorneys can help. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss what happened to you.
Arizona Dept. of Public Safety: DPS Releases Latest Distracted Driving Enforcement Details for Arizona Highways
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: What is Distracted Driving?
Phoenix New Times: Texting Not Actually a Top Cause of Distracted Driving on Arizona Highways
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.