Not many people are as great at multi-tasking as they would like to think. As many of the recent distracted driver campaigns have revealed, texting and driving definitely don’t mix. However, just as dangerous—and much less discussed— is a phenomenon known as “iPod oblivion.” Often, when I drive to and from work in the early morning or early evening, I see multitudes of joggers in a trance-like state, running with headphones in their ears, oblivious to the world around them—and to passing cars or horns. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as “in-attentional blindness.”
I have observed the same to be true of many drivers and cyclists, who are immersed in music while driving. Last week, I was contacted by a prominent executive in Philadelphia whose vehicle was violently rear-ended by a seemingly “stoned” individual listening to blaring music on an iPhone, while driving at night on roads covered with black ice—a dangerous situation indeed.
Despite the numerous local campaigns that address distracted driving, a recent study indicates that 80% of all crashes are caused by distracted driving—which is now the top danger behind the wheel, taking precedence over driving while intoxicated. Today, 8 out of 10 crashes involve some type of driver inattention caused by music, texting, talking on the phone, or attending to children or pets.
To this experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer, it seems insane that people must die, or sustain life-shattering injuries, because a driver is immersed in a seemingly all-important text message and is not paying attention to the road. When we add the phenomenon of joggers, walkers, or drivers distracted by the music of their iPods, statistical numbers for death and injury increase to an even greater extent. How many of you have glanced sideways, or avoided an accident, only to see the other driver bopping his or her head to the beat of the music?
Many of the new smart cars contain advanced technology that adds to the distraction factor—with drivers fumbling to operate their high-tech navigation systems, or to utilize their advanced music selection or telephone functions. While many states do not allow speaking on a handheld phone while driving, some drivers circumvent the issue by wearing headphones, but unfortunately the volume is often so high that it overrides the senses, and undercuts the sensory control necessary for completely safe driving.
I have long believed that chance favors the prepared mind, and advise all parents and drivers to take steps to safely protect themselves by not driving in a distracted manner. If you have sustained injuries in a car accident, and believe that a driver has been distracted, it is important to contact an experienced car accident attorney with the investigative resources and experience necessary to take action against it.