Distracted driving has always existed. Drivers in past generations got distracted by events outside or billboards. When the radio was invented, it quickly became a distraction. Children and pets in the car have always been an issue.

That said, the “new” face of distracted driving is certainly the smartphone. It has forced everyone to take a bit closer of a look at the role of distraction in car accidents because so many drivers use their phones all the time.

How dangerous is it? For instance, how does it stack up against drunk driving, which was for a long time thought to be the most dangerous type of driving a person could engage in? Is that still true or is distraction worse?

It does depend who you ask, but the statistics seem to indicate that drunk driving still takes more lives, while distracted driving may cause more injuries.

There are problems with these statistics, though, starting with the fact that you can’t test for distraction after a crash. You can test for alcohol use. Could distracted drivers cause crashes and then just lie about the cause? If the stats only indicate the accidents they can prove were caused by distraction, doesn’t it stand to reason that many were missed?

You also have to determine what a distraction is. A driver may look at a billboard and rear-end another car, but they may not consider that a distracted driving accident in the same way that they would if they were writing a text message.

At the end of the day, though, both are dangerous. Both cause life-altering injuries or fatalities. Those who get injured or lose a loved one need to know about their legal options.