Road safety experts have identified a new type of dangerous distraction that is affecting motorists these days – videoconferencing. According to an NBC news report, with the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are working from home away from our office desks and connecting with colleagues via Zoom or other types of videoconferencing platforms. Experts say that as millions of Americans spend hours at a time in videoconferences and then jump in their car, many are struggling to maintain their concentration.
Zoom and Distracted Driving
Safety experts fear this zoning out some are calling “Zoom zombies,” due to cognitive overload could be contributing to a surge in traffic accident deaths. Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) say that computer use, in general, could overload the human mind. The mental strain combined with the way driving skills have atrophied for many people during the pandemic year is likely contributing to the increase in highway fatalities, analysts say.
A new study by Root Insurance found that 54% of the 1,819 adult motorists surveyed said they’ve had trouble focusing on driving after videoconferences. The study found that the problem got worse as the drivers got younger. For Gen Z motorists, 65% reported losing concentration while driving while it was 61% for millennials and 48% for Gen Xers. Experts say that as many of us shifted to a virtual environment, our reliance on technology dramatically increased along with our screen time causing a majority of drivers to carry these distracted behaviors to their vehicles.
The Problem of Distracted Driving
There is no question that distracted driving has been a growing problem in the United States, blamed for at least 10% of annual roadway deaths. Numerous studies have also shown that highway speeds went up sharply during the pandemic. Here, in Southern California, we saw an increase in street racing incidents due to COVID-19 lockdowns empting out our roadways.
It is important to remember that distracted driving is not just about checking email or texting. This study reminds us about the very real risk of cognitive distraction, looking at the road while your thoughts are somewhere else. That zoning out may mean that you may not recognize a dangerous situation until it’s too late.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted or negligent driver, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced California car accident lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.