Distractions come in three types: visual, manual, and cognitive, which means distracted driving is anything that takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or mind off driving.
Drivers who are texting or talking on cell phones, adjusting the radio, eating and drinking, putting on makeup, or interacting with other passengers can he held liable for damages caused by their negligent behavior. Even at 50 mph, a focused driver will need roughly the length of a football field to come to a complete stop.
When you get behind the wheel, multiple elements are competing for your attention. It is important to know what distractions you face and how to ignore them.
These 10 driving distractions are more common than others:
1. Texting, Email, and Social Media Apps
Texting and the use of social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter are common and very dangerous distractions. Although most people like to think they’re safe drivers, 35% of drivers admitted to sending a text or email while driving, according to a 2018 AAA survey. Since it requires manual, cognitive, and visual attention, texting significantly increases the likelihood of being in a crash.
2. Talking on the Phone
Holding a phone to your ear can impede your control over the vehicle. The NHSTA estimated that at any typical daylight hour in 2018 over 475,000 drivers were holding a phone to their ear. But even with the hands-free technology in newer vehicles, the phone conversation itself can easily take your focus off the road. The National Security Council states that just talking on the phone can narrow a driver’s field of perception by up to 50%.
3. Eating, Drinking, or Smoking
Whether it’s coffee on the drive to work or a fast-food burger for lunch, Americans eat and drink in their cars quite often. But to unbag and unwrap these items require you to take your hands off the wheel. Moreover, the act of eating and drinking, bring the items up to your face, can actually obstruct the view of the road as well causing visual distractions.
4. Applying Makeup, Grooming, or Changing
It may seem like you will save a few minutes by applying makeup, combing your hair, lint rolling your jacket, or changing clothes in your car. But the time you could save is dwarfed by the increased risk posed by these visual and manual distractions. Clothes changing, in particular, is more likely to force both hands off the wheel and could render them useless at a critical moment.
5. Reaching for Something
It’s rarely thought about as a distraction but reaching for something can be a serious risk to your safety. Twisting and straining to reach a pair of glasses in the glovebox, a bottle cap that fell on the floor, or a CD case in the back seat, reduces the control over the wheel and takes your eyes away from the road.
6. Using In-Car Technology
Unloading and loading CDs, entering GPS destinations, and adjusting the air conditioning or heater settings are all very common distractions in vehicles. Newer vehicles are now being equipped with touch-screen dashboard systems. In 2019, 82% of vehicles sold had this feature. Though there are many hands-free options with these infotainment systems, they can still be very cognitively distracting.
7. Loud and Rowdy Passengers
Carpooling is a great way to save the environment. But when passengers behave badly, they can become risks. An energetic conversation or a heated debate with passengers can quickly become both a cognitive and visual distraction. On top of that, physical interactions or disruptions by passengers further increase the risk of an accident.
8. Driving with a Pet
We all love our pets, but they also demand a lot of attention. When we’re at home, this isn’t a problem. But when pets are in the car with us, we can easily get distracted by petting them, holding them, or even looking at them. Plus, a pet who refuses to sit still or stay in the back seat can be especially dangerous and hamper your ability to drive the vehicle.
9. Rubbernecking and People Watching
After inching along I-95 for miles, you finally see the cause of the slowdown. But as you turn your head to figure out what’s going on—BAM!—you run into the car in front of you. Nothing is worse than causing an accident because you were distracted by another accident. And yet, staring out the window at stopped or stalled vehicles, wrecks, people on the sidewalk, roadside attractions, or even billboards all take your mental and visual attention off of the cars in front of you.
Daydreaming or letting your mind wander are natural and common, but drivers should take extra care to avoid these distractions while in the car. Delayed reaction times are the prime cause of distracted driving accidents. When your mind wanders or you dream about something else, you aren’t actively focused on the road ahead of you and your reactions to events will be slower. Given that you are hurtling down the road at 60 miles per hour in a 3,000-pound metal missile, it’s a good idea to maintain a tight focus on the task at hand.
Distracted Driving Is Dangerous
Even a momentary lapse in attention can be disastrous when you’re behind the wheel. Not only are distracted drivers more likely to cause an accident, they are also less likely to be able to avoid an accident.
If a negligent, distracted driver caused an accident and you were injured, we can help. You have the right to hold the negligent driver accountable and to receive compensation for your damages.
Don’t let an aggressive insurance company force you into accepting less than you deserve. The personal injury lawyers here at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and tell you how we can help you get on the path to recovery. Call us today at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out the confidential form below and a team member will contact you soon.
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