Distracted Driving Accidents Surge in South Dakota

Several studies cite seriousness of problem, Sioux Falls lawyer explains

Driving distracted can cause accidentsCar accidents caused by distracted drivers in South Dakota have increasingly become a problem statewide. This trend is reflected across the nation, where more than half of all traffic fatalities involved distracted drivers, according to recent studies.

The number of accidents caused by distracted drivers in South Dakota increased dramatically between 2014 and 2015, according to an April 5, 2017 news article published by the Yankton Daily Press in recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In 2015, distracted drivers caused 1,125 accidents in South Dakota, an increase of 9 percent or 93 accidents compared to 1,032 distracted driving accidents statewide in 2014, according to statistics compiled by the National Safety Council.

Nationwide, 3,477 people were killed in 2015 in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as reported by the Yankton Daily Press. Or as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it, more than 8 people are killed and 1,161 people are injured every single day in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers.

More than half of car accidents caused by distracted drivers

Another recent study offered even more startling statistics. More than half of all motor vehicle accidents involved drivers distracted by their phones, according to an article published April 5 by the website landlinemag.com, which cited a study conducted by Cambridge Mobile Telematics.

In particular, landlinemag.com stated the CMT study found that "phone distractions occurred on more than half of all trips that ended in a crash. Drivers were distracted for more than one minute in approximately 40 percent of distracted driving accidents. Approximately 20 percent of distracted drives found the driver distracted for more than two minutes."

The numbers were even worse for South Dakota. Along with New Jersey, CMT's study found that South Dakota drivers were the most distracted drivers in the country. In both states, drivers were distracted by their phones for more than 5 minutes for every 100 miles driven.

South Dakota's distracted driving laws

South Dakota is one of 46 states than bans texting while driving, according to statistics compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Administration as of April 2017. South Dakota also prohibits drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate driver's license from using a cell phone while driving.

However, South Dakota does not have a statewide law banning hand-held use of cellphones while driving. Only school bus drivers in South Dakota are prohibited from using a hand-held cellphone while driving.

Even so, many drivers, especially young ones, ignore such laws in South Dakota. According to a study conducted by AAA South Dakota cited in the Yankton Daily Press article, drivers 19 to 24 years old were:

  • 6 times as likely as all drivers to read a text message or email while driving
  • Twice as likely as all drivers to type or send a text message or email while driving
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