The Portland Press reported first responders were called to the 1300 block of Harpswell Neck Road on a recent Thursday evening, where they found a Nissan car that had veered off the road and struck a tree. The vehicle was totaled. The driver, a 26-year-old man from Milton, Mass., was reportedly fighting with his 20-year-old girlfriend/passenger, from Brunswick, as he traveled at a high rate of speed. Investigators say he suffered serious leg injuries and was transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland. His passenger, who suffered minor injuries, was transported to Brunswick’s Mid Coast Hospital, where she was treated and released.
The incident serves as a reminder of one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving: Arguing with your passenger. Some research suggests this practice is even more dangerous than talking on the phone or possibly even texting. As the Washington Post recently reported on federal data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, passengers pose a greater risk of distraction than cell phones. Conversations with passengers were reportedly responsible for 57 percent of distracted driving accidents, while phone use only accounted for 12 percent.
In another analysis by Virginia Tech, researchers found that driving while angry, sad or crying increases the risk of a crash by 9.8 times. Meanwhile, texting increases the risk by 6.1 times, reaching for the phone increases the risk 4.8 times and talking on the phone increases it by 2.2 times.
It stands to reason, then, that not only engaging with a passenger but arguing heatedly and drumming up strong emotions is going to be especially dangerous.
And as it turns out, the phenomenon is pretty common. In many cases, it’s couples arguing about whatever couples normally argue about, except their having the row in the car. It’s one of the few places couples are essentially trapped together, but they don’t have to look directly at each other. According to The Wall Street Journal, many couples end up having their most intimate discussions on long drives.
But sometimes, the argument stems directly from the driving habits of the person behind the wheel. As teenagers, cars may have represented freedom and first kisses. But as adults, analysts have opined, motor vehicles have become central to an underlying power struggle or personality clash.
A survey conducted by Holiday Autos in Great Britain found that of 2,000 adults polled, 1 in 10 couples break up while taking a vacation together. The study found that the No. 1 most common types of vacations that spark an argument: A road trip, which accounted for 20 percent of all arguments. Navigating foreign roads was a major trigger. So too were:
- Bad navigation skills;
- “Backseat driving”;
- Children arguing in the back;
- Not asking for directions.
Often when we get in car accidents, the NHTSA reports, it’s not because we’re distracted by anything in particular. It’s because we’re wrapped up in our thoughts. We lose a general focus. That’s when we start to make thoughtless mistakes or errors.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Couple crash car in Harpswell while arguing, Aug. 26, 2016, By Gillian Graham, Portland Press Herald
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Graf v. State Farm – Underinsured Motorist Coverage For Maine Car Accident, Aug. 26, 2016, Portland Car Accident Lawyer Blog