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Rhode Island drivers and the risk of distracted driving

Karns & Kerrison

Rhode Island drivers may take interest in a Liberty Mutual Research Institution for Safety study which found that a two-second glance away from the road makes it more difficult to anticipate driving hazards. Even momentary distractions, such as checking a smartphone for a call or message, may increase the risk of a car accident. During the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recommended two-second limit for looking away from the road, a vehicle traveling at 70 miles per hour travels approximately 200 feet.

According to research, looking away and refocusing on the road requires a period of adjustment before the driver can regain full focus. Through the use of eye-tracking equipment, researchers found that drivers who were distracted for two seconds were not able to react to simulated hazards as well as fully-focused drivers. The distracted drivers were also unable to respond as well to sudden threats, such as a vehicle unexpectedly pulling onto the road.

During the study, researchers focused on whether drivers who perceived a potential threat on the road would remember to check for the threat after a brief period of distraction. The distracted drivers consistently forgot about the hazard they had previously observed and were not aware of their potentially dangerous behavior afterward. Yet in a survey administered after the test, the distracted drivers rated their on-road performance highly.

Researchers hoped that the study would encourage drivers to be more aware of the risks of distraction on the road and encourage safe driver policies. Someone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver may be able to be compensated through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can help a client in this situation seek damages that typically include the costs of required medical care and treatment.

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