When it comes to factors that may increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident on Tennessee’s roads and highways, there are certain obvious culprits. Drug or alcohol impairment, speeding, and texting while driving have all been the subject of various safety campaigns. Those activities are also prohibited by vehicular criminal statutes in many states.

Yet even seemingly innocent behaviors, like having a conversation with one’s passengers, might be deemed negligent if they interfere with one’s driving ability. In fact, a recent study confirms that simple small talk while driving may actually be hazardous.

According to data collected and analyzed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 57 percent of crashes attributed to driver distraction are caused by conversations with passengers. In contrast, only 12 percent of distracted driving crashes result from cell phone use.

The study is an important reminder of the duty of care that each driver owes not only to his or her own passengers, but also to other vehicles sharing the road. Simply refraining from vehicular criminal actions, like drinking or texting and driving, does not necessarily fulfill that duty. Changes in traffic or road conditions require a driver’s constant attention. 

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to consult with a law firm that focuses on personal injury lawsuits. An attorney can investigate the details of a crash, looking for evidentiary clues of negligence. An attorney can also advocate for a crash victim in any negotiations or communications with the faulty driver’s insurance company. If a settlement offer is insufficient, an attorney may advise bringing a lawsuit if a strong claim can be presented to a jury.

Source: Washington Post, “This surprising activity is more dangerous than using your phone while driving,” Jacob Bogage, June 23, 2016