For years, the roads got safer. You read the reports and saw fewer accidents, injuries and fatalities. The trend literally held for decades. It wouldn't be long, you thought, until driving was one of the safest ways to get around.
And then, in recent years, the trend switched. Accidents and fatalities started climbing again. Not only did the dream of overall safety seem to disappear, but you longed for things to even out. If two years in a row could post the exact same statistics, that would be an improvement.
But you also wondered why this would happen. Why now? Why would the roads get more dangerous? Why would a trend that held for decades suddenly change?
One huge reason that researchers keep coming back to is distracted driving. It's always been something of an issue. Maps, GPS systems, car phones, radios, passengers: These all distract drivers.
However, in recent years, the smartphone has brought on a level of distraction we have never seen before. It's essentially a computer. Young people live their whole lives tapped into social media and the internet. They do not like to abandon that for a moment, even to drive a car.
But don't blame only young people. Older drivers also make calls, check emails, take pictures and respond to text messages. The more prominent smartphones get in society, the more the danger grows.
A subtle danger
Wouldn't you think that people would recognize the danger and try to avoid it? We can see those rising statistics. If it's clear that people are dying because of phones, shouldn't drivers work twice as hard to keep themselves safe? It feels like that should be our evolutionary response. Humans always value self-preservation, sometimes to a fault.
That all does make sense, but one man with a Ph.D. studied it and pointed out that he thinks the issue is that the danger of technology is too subtle for humans to respond to rationally. Basically, we do not instinctively sense that danger, even when we know it is there.
"If you look at technology...they provide us with subtle risks for which we are not educationally or biologically prepared," he said while explaining the phenomenon. "If you present a kid with a ferocious tiger, they're going to run and scream. They're biologically prepared to fear this thing; the risks are not subtle. But with our inventions, the risks are really subtle."
That's what makes it so easy for people to think that they won't crash, that it won't happen to them and that they're not in any danger. As a result, they actually put everyone in danger.
If you get hit by a distracted driver, you could suffer serious injuries. You must know all of your options to seek financial compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.