A fatal accident occurred on Monday, May 11, 2020, south of Goldsby, Oklahoma.
According to The Purcell Register, a 44-year-old woman driving a Toyota Camry went left of
center, hitting two pickup trucks. The driver of the Camry was not wearing a seatbelt and was
ejected from her vehicle. The drivers and passengers of the other vehicles were wearing
seatbelts and survived with minimal injury, but the driver of the Camry was killed.
This story serves to emphasize something that we all should know very well: the importance of
wearing a seatbelt. “Seatbelts save lives” has been the mantra that we have all heard most
often when it comes to road safety, but its importance cannot be overstated. One needs to look
no further than what happened on the 11th to see this. The driver of the first truck was
uninjured, and the occupants of the second were treated but quickly released from the
Emergency Room. The driver of the Camry, the only one not wearing a seatbelt, suffered
traumatic injuries that resulted in her death. According to statistics from the National Safety
Council in 2018, nearly 87% of accident survivors are those wearing seatbelts, while 47% of
people who died were unrestrained. An estimation by the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration states that wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of death by 45% and the risk of
severe injury by up to 50%.
This event also highlights another important contributing factor to automobile accidents:
distracted driving. This accident occurred around 1:00PM and it is currently unknown why the
driver went left of center, but it is reasonable to assume that whatever happened, she diverted
her attention away from the road.
An unfortunate reality is that distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents.
According to research done by Safestart, a Pennsylvania-based safety company, it’s
estimated that roughly 25% of motor vehicle accident fatalities are a result of distracted
But what causes us to be distracted while driving in the first place? A Pennsylvania-based insurance company examined data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System,
which surveys all American motor vehicle fatalities.
Their results reveal the top ten causes of distracted driving and make it clear that not all
distractions are created equal.
1. Smoking related– 1%. Only one in a hundred accidents is related to lighting a
cigarette, smoking or putting it out.
2. Moving objects – 1%. Moving objects in the car such as insects and pets can
lead you to take your eyes off the road—and at least one source suggests that it
may be an underreported cause of distraction.
3. Using devices/controls to operate the vehicle – 1%. Surprisingly, adjusting
things like mirrors or seatbelts plays a relatively minor role in distraction-related
4. Adjusting audio or climate controls – 2%. Fiddling with the radio or adjusting
the A/C for even a moment is a factor in a small number of traffic fatalities.
5. Eating or drinking – 2%. Every car has cupholders—and using them can be a
definite source of distraction.
6. Using or reaching for a device brought into the car – 2%. We all know that
using devices like cellphones can take our minds off the task of driving. But it
turns out that even reaching for them can lead to a serious accident.
7. Other occupants – 5%. Other people in the car can place major demands on
your attention when you’re driving, which can result in a collision.
8. Outside person, object or event – 7%. It turns out that looking at something or
someone outside the car, like gawking at an accident or at people in other cars,
is even more of a distraction than the person in the passenger seat.
9. Cellphone use – 12%. The second-leading cause of deaths due to distraction-
related car accidents won’t be a surprise to anyone, as cellphones while driving
(even the hands-free options) can distract us in a number of ways. But if they’re
not the biggest cause, then what is?
10. Generally distracted or “lost in thought” – 62%. By far the biggest cause of
distracted driving fatalities is a driver’s mind wandering for long enough to lead to
a collision—and someone’s death.
Driver Complacency helps us feel comfortable and leads to forgetting just how
dangerous it can be to operate a motor vehicle. The trend to “multi-task” creates an
impression that we can do things like dial a phone, load a podcast or get lost in thoughts
without putting ourselves or others in danger. An easy solution is to find ways to
improve focus and reduce distraction. This information from American Express
suggests we try the following:
-Have a Plan the Night Before
-Turn Off the Distractions
-Set Smaller Goals
-Get enough sleep
Use Visual Reminders
-Give a Reward
-Unplug and Play
(Click the link for further explanation)
As a nationwide law firm helping those involved in accidents, we at the law offices of
Jones Brown hear first-hand accounts daily of how quickly serious accidents shape. We
encourage all drivers to be aware of the factors that contribute to distraction and to take the
necessary steps to prevent complacency.
If you, a friend or family members are involved in an accident, please know we are here to help
and can be reached anytime by calling 855-525-2999 (855-JBLAW-99).