Distracted driving has received renewed attention in recent years because of the prevalence of handheld electronic devices being used by drivers. Text messaging has particularly resulted in serious concerns due to the fact that it includes visual, manual, and cognitive distractions in one activity. Any of these types of distraction alone can create a hazard for a driver and others on the roads of Tennessee. However, combined distractions can be disastrous.

From 2011 to 2012, the number of individuals who perished in distracted driving car accidents decreased slightly. However, the number of individuals injured in such events increased by 9 percent over the same period. Nearly 20 percent of injury accidents included distracted driving as a factor during 2011. As drivers have been surveyed about their activities while behind the wheel, nearly 70 percent admitted to distraction via cell phone use withing the month prior to the survey. Approximately one-third of drivers surveyed had been involved in email or text messaging activity behind the wheel.

Risk levels appear to be greater for such distractions with younger drivers. The under-20 age group has the highest level of fatal distracted driving auto accidents. Laws are being created in many states to address the issue, but there isn’t a clear awareness of whether legislation has improved the situation at this time. Although teen drivers are viewed as one of the groups with high risk levels, action is being taken to address concerns in public transportation and commercial driving as well.

Any hazardous driving behavior that takes a motorist’s attention away from the road can pose risks to others in the same vehicles or to those in other vehicles. An individual who is seriously injured because of negligent driving involving a distraction may find that personal injury action is appropriate for dealing with damages that exceed the benefits available through motor vehicle insurance.