May 1, 2013

Distracted Driving, Car Accidents, & Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

Brain injury prevention is a complex task, because the injuries are caused in so many different ways. There is no single solution to the problem. Minimizing the toll that these harms take requires appreciating the seriousness of the consequences and understanding the situations that often cause them.

So what causes brain injuries?

Reports indicate that the single largest cause of all such injuries are falls. From toddlers to the elderly, falling and hitting one’s head on a solid object can occur virtually anywhere. That contact can prove damaging, leading to concussions or more severe forms of brain damage.

But while falls cause the largest total number of head injuries, the most serious head injuries--those resulting in permanent disability or death--are most often caused by car accidents. For that reason, many brain injury advocates are focusing more and more on addressing safety while behind the wheel in an effort to ultimately minimize the number of community members who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Distracted Driving
Perhaps no issue is gaining more attention on the auto traveling safety front than that of “distracted driving” -- using a phone while behind the wheel. In fact, last month was officially dubbed “Distracted Driving Awareness” month by the National Safety Council. You can read more about the awareness campaign, including signing a pledge to help tackle the problem, at the official campaign website.

As part of the campaign, organizers shared a summary of what they dubbed “The Great Multitasking Lie” as it relates to driving and cell phone use. This “lie” refers to several common misconceptions. For one thing, the human brain is not capable of “multi-tasking” at all--because every time attention is divided, response time and functioning is weakened. In other words, it may seem like you are able to drive and talk without any impairment, but that is a deception. The campaign also points out that the real problem is with the mental processes involved with using a cellphone--not necessarily the use of the hand to hold the phone. In other words, even “hands free” devices pose serious risks that increase the possibility of an accident.

All of this is not mere speculation but proven by scientists. Various studies examined the way that talking on a phone affects the brain. Those research efforts clearly show that talking while driving weakens the driver’s ability to recognize and respond to “driving cues.” Those cues could be anything--from a changing light to a slowing car. When talking, the driver is less likely to process that action in a timely fashion. In other words, they may “see” the car slowing in front of them, but their brain is less adept at understanding what that means they need to do.

Brain Injury Recovery
Addressing the continuing problem of distracted driving will go a long way toward lowering the number of accidents that lead to serious brain injuries. If an accident does strike, however, it is important for Illinois travelers (and their families) to understand that they have legal rights to recovery. Be sure to contact a car accident lawyer to learn about how you can ensure you or your loved one receives the full scope of compensation they are entitled to best recovery from their injuries.

See Other Blog Posts:

Helmet-Maker Riddell Loses Brain Injury Lawsuit

Understanding Punitive Damages Following Brain Injury