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South Carolina Ranks Among Top 3 States for Distracted Driving

Woman using cell phone while driving a car in traffic.

The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) has recently released distracted driving data in the United States during the first half of 2023. USAA SafePilot® telematics app collected this data. It provides critical insights into states where drivers are more or less susceptible to distracted driving car accidents. This information has surfaced as more drivers return to the roads to work from their offices.

During the first six months of 2023, USAA recorded an 18% surge in miles driven compared to the same period in 2022. Alarmingly, there was a 10% increase in distracted driving behaviors during this time. This surge emphasizes the need for increased awareness of distractions while driving.

Where does South Carolina Rank for distracted driving?

The data shows that South Carolina ranks No. 3 out of the top 10 states with the most distracted driving. The distraction rate here is 16.5%, which is well above the national average of 12.1. South Carolina ranks just behind Louisiana and Mississippi.

This should come as no surprise. Distracted driving has been an ongoing danger on South Carolina roads for several years. According to the state's latest car accident report, distracted driving resulted in 7,4277 out of 113,993 vehicular crashes. Out of that, eight people were killed, 70 people sustained serious injuries, and 2,297 people sustained minor to moderate injuries.

Why is distracted driving so dangerous?

Distracted driving remains a leading cause of accidents and fatalities in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving was responsible for 3,522 fatalities in 2021. This marks a 13% increase compared to pre-pandemic statistics from 2019.

Distracted driving poses a significant danger because it diverts a driver's attention from the road. Common types of distractions include:

  • Visual distractions: These occur when a driver diverts their eyes from the road to look at something inside or outside a vehicle.
  • Manual distractions: This involves a driver taking one or both hands off the steering wheel to manipulate objects, devices, or controls.
  • Cognitive distractions: This type of distraction happens when a driver's mind is not fully engaged in driving. Drivers' thoughts may be occupied with other tasks, concerns, or distractions.

Certain forms of distracted driving can overlap and fit into multiple categories. Texting and using smartphone apps while driving are exceptionally hazardous as they encompass all three categories simultaneously.

The driver's engagement involves holding the smartphone (manual distraction), directing their gaze towards the screen rather than the road (visual distraction), and mentally concentrating on the phone instead of the critical task of driving (cognitive distraction). Furthermore, the cognitive aspect of this distraction can last even after the driver finishes using the smartphone.

The consequences of distracted driving

Although distracted driving may not carry the same stigma as drunk or aggressive driving, its consequences can be just as fatal, especially for those hit by distracted drivers. Often, victims are pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users lacking the protective mechanisms available to those inside vehicles.

What exacerbates this issue is that distracted driving is a conscious decision. When drivers choose to engage in activities like texting or taking cellphone videos while driving, they are making a deliberate choice that can lead to severe repercussions.

If a message or email is that urgent, the driver needs to prioritize safety by finding an appropriate location to pull over, whether it be a parking lot, rest area, or a safe spot on a side street. Safety should always be the main concern while on the road, and drivers who neglect their responsibilities must be held accountable for their actions.

What to do if you were hit by a distracted driver in South Carolina

Don't face the aftermath of a car accident alone. Seeking legal help is a crucial step to protect your rights and seek fair compensation for your losses. Contacting an experienced car accident lawyer can provide you with invaluable guidance and representation throughout the complex process of dealing with insurance companies and pursuing legal action if necessary.

At Twenge + Twombley Law Firm in South Carolina, our goal is to secure the maximum compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other accident-related expenses.

We can investigate your crash and find the facts that matter to help maximize your recovery. To learn more, contact us online or call our Beaufort office to set up a free legal consultation. We proudly serve injured motorists and their families throughout the Beaufort, Bluffton, and Hilton Head areas.

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