According to“Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.” Distracted driving is a huge problem in the United States, and in particular, in South Carolina. In fact, according The Post and Courier, South Carolina currently holds the number one spot for worst drivers in America, and the number five spot for the most careless drivers in America. At Joye Law Firm, we believe that these are not titles to be proud of, and we strive to educate our clients and Charleston residents so that we may reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving in our city and our state.

Key Statistics On Distracted Driving

From texting and driving to eating and drinking, and from putting on makeup to adjusting the radio, there are hundreds of seemingly innocent things that people do every day while driving. These innocent things however are the leading causes of car accidents across the nation, and account for these very real, very shocking statistics:

  • In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and another 431,000 were injured, due to distracted driving.
  • Ten percent of all drivers, 15 to 19 years old, that were involved in fatal car accidents were reported to have been distracted at the time of the crash.
  • While drivers who are in their 20s are 23 percent responsible for all fatal crashes, they make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers on the road, and 38 percent of the distracted drivers who were using their cell phones in fatal crashes.
  • At any given daylight hour across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or another electronic device while driving, a number that has been steadily increasing since 2010.

(Statistics courtesy of

These statistics are frightening, and not only because the numbers are so high, but also because those numbers only seem to be increasing. But what is causing the increase in distracted driving numbers? A Pennsylvania-based insurance company seems to have found the answers.

Most Common Causes for Distracted Driving

According to a study done by Erie Insurance in which the company analyzed police report data in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)—a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle accidents—the top ten most distracting and dangerous activities that drivers perform while behind the wheel are as follows:

  • Smoking: One percent of all distracted driving accidents stem form lighting a cigarette, smoking, or putting out a cigarette. This category also includes looking for a pack of cigarettes and/or a lighter.
  • Moving Objects: One percent of distracted driver related car accidents are the result of a cat, dog, insect or some other moving object in the car. At the moment, it is unclear if moving objects are an underreported cause of car accidents.
  • Adjusting Vehicle Settings: Surprisingly, one percent of distractions occur when the driver is trying to adjust his or her vehicle settings, such as adjusting the mirror, adjusting a seatbelt, or moving the seat.
  • Playing with the Dials: Two percent of distracted driving accidents occurred when the at-fault driver was fiddling with the radio, the volume, or adjusting the A/C. Something as simple as adjusting the volume has led to a small number of distracted driving fatalities.
  • Eating or Drinking: Two percent of distracted driving accidents stem from eating or drinking. Because eating often requires two hands, the task takes away from the more important one at hand—driving. Furthermore, eating is a messy task, one that may require the driver to search for a napkin, dab at a stain, or even jerk in panic when they drop food on themselves.
  • Using or Searching for a Device: Two percent of accidents occur when the driver is searching for or using an electronic device that they brought into the vehicle, such as a cell-phone, GPS, or mP3 player.
  • Other People: Other people can be very distracting, accounting for five percent of distracted driving related collisions.
  • Person, Object, or Event Outside of the Vehicle: Seven percent of distracted drivers claim to have been distracted by something outside of the vehicle, such as an accident, people in other cars, or even something up in the sky.
  • Cellphones: Surprisingly, cellphones only account for 12 percent of distraction related car accidents. However, it is the second leading cause of death due to distractions, making cellphones an even bigger concern than they were before.
  • “Lost in Thought”: The number one cause of distracted related car accidents is distraction in general, or being “lost in thought.” Responsible for 62 percent of distraction related car accidents, it turns out that our own minds are the greatest and most dangerous distractions of all.

While distractions certainly are a major culprit for the rising number of car accidents in Charleston, we would have to say that the biggest culprit of all is complacency. Complacent drivers feel that they are able to take their eyes and mind off of the road for any given amount of time, and that nothing will happen in the meantime. After all, when an individual has been driving for a significant amount of their life, they begin to forget just how dangerous the roads can be.

Additionally, Americans these days are stressed out, frustrated, and overwhelmed, and our busy lifestyles have us feeling rushed and tired all at the same time. Each of these states of mind definitely influences individuals to perform risky driving maneuvers, or to forget to perform standard driving procedures altogether.

For tips on how to eliminate distractions while on the road, check out SafeStart’s guide to defeating distractions in the car, “Driving Distraction Away.”

Our Charleston Car Accident Attorneys are Here to Help

At the Joye Law Firm, we strive to improve our community by offering free resources aimed at combatting major risks and problems, such as distracted driving. Hopefully this guide has helped you identify distractions you may fall victim to, and opened your eyes to the very real consequences that seemingly innocent tasks, such as checking your cell phone or eating your lunch, can have on yours or another person’s life.

If you or a loved one is the victim of a distracted driving accident, contact our Charleston personal injury law firm at (888) 324-3100 or online to schedule a free consultation with one of our Charleston personal injury attorneys today.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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