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The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Posted in Distracted Driving on September 16, 2020

In 2018 alone, distracted driving claimed more than 2,800 lives. Unfortunately, all too many drivers continue to get behind the wheel while distracted. Some drivers assume that they have enough skill to decrease their accident risk. Others may feel that the distraction does not pose enough of a danger to prevent them from doing what they want to do. Unfortunately, distracted driving poses a range of risks behind the wheel.

Types of Distraction

One of the biggest challenges associated with distracted driving is that many drivers simply do not recognize what it means to drive distracted. They assume that if they put their phones down and do not text or check email or social media while they drive, they have nothing to worry about. Distracted driving, however, can occur in three distinct forms.

Visual Distractions

Visual distractions take the driver’s eyes off of the road. In some cases, a visual distraction can prove as simple as looking at a child in the back seat who needs attention or chastising a pet wandering around the vehicle. In other cases, visual distractions could include checking a device in the car: a phone or GPS, for example.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions take the driver’s hands off of the wheel. Ideally, drivers should keep both hands on the wheel while navigating, though they need not necessarily keep them at perfect 10 and 2 positions. Distracted drivers, however, may remove one or even both hands from the wheel. Eating and drinking offer a common manual distraction—and eating or drinking messy foods can quickly remove both the driver’s hands and the driver’s eyes from their assigned tasks while driving.

Cognitive Distractions

You have your eyes on the road. Your hands both grip the wheel. That does not mean, however, that you are not distracted. Cognitive distractions can pose just as much danger as visual or manual distractions. A driver who suffers from cognitive distraction takes his attention off of the road. He could get deeply involved with a conversation, whether with someone inside the vehicle or someone on a cell phone, or he could find himself distracted by his own worries. Even a desperate need to visit the restroom can pose substantial cognitive distraction!

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Most drivers know, logically, that they need to pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, all too many lose track of the hazards that can result from distracted driving. Annually, distracted driving could contribute to an average of 10% of motor vehicle fatalities. In fact, distracted driving, especially texting and driving, could prove even more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.

When you take your eyes off the road, you may not notice hazards around you. In the time it takes to answer an average text message, a car can travel the length of a football field. That leaves you with a very long time spent driving blind! You would not drive while blindfolded, so you should not take your eyes off of the road while you drive, even if you feel you can do so safely.

Manual distractions can make it harder to respond to hazards on the road, even if you see them. You spot a child chasing a ball into the road and slam on your brakes, stopping your vehicle as quickly as possible. You notice a big truck starting to creep into your lane, and you swerve quickly out of the way. These potential hazards could cause serious injury if you lack the ability to respond quickly. Unfortunately, manual distractions can take your hands away from the wheel and significantly slow your response time. You might not have reflexes fast enough to get your hands back on the wheel and get out of a potential tight spot.

Cognitive distractions can slow your responses. One minute, you drive down the road, eagerly engaging in a spirited discussion with a passenger in your vehicle. You have your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, so you feel perfectly safe. Unfortunately, that cognitive distraction has left you unable to fully take in everything happening around you. You may fail to notice a potential hazard as it zooms your way, or you might fail to think of the right solution to that hazard fast enough to react and spare yourself and your passenger.

How Can You Prevent Distracted Driving?

Today’s fast-paced, technologically-driven society has plenty of distractions that can make it difficult to keep your attention on the road, where it belongs. Want to reduce your accident risk and keep yourself from getting distracted? Try some of these strategies.

Toss your phone into the back seat or trunk. That way, you cannot find yourself tempted to “quickly” check a text message while the car moves forward.

Avoid phone conversations while in the car, if you can. Try to save your calls for later, when you can more safely navigate them.

Do not eat or drink while driving. If you must eat in the car, try not to choose messy foods, which could increase the risk of distraction.

Turn off notifications on your smartwatch before you get in the car. Smartwatch notifications can cause even more distraction than the same notification on your phone, since they appear on a smaller screen and may require you to scroll to take in the whole message.

Program your GPS and any other devices before you start driving. Yes, you know how to get out of your own neighborhood. Programming your GPS while you drive, however, can lead to significantly more distraction behind the wheel.

Wait until you can stop to change the radio station or temperature controls. Avoid fiddling with them while driving, which can take both your eyes and hands off of the road.

If you suffered injuries in an accident with a distracted driver, an attorney can help you better understand your legal right to compensation. Contact the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC today at  504-500-5000 to learn more about your rights following a distracted driving accident.