Distracted driving is a major threat to highway safety in the United States. In fact, it has become one of the major causes of injuries and fatalities as drivers try to multi-task while operating a motor vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 individuals died nationwide and roughly 390,000 injuries occurred in 2019 due to distracted driving. However, this has not stopped 90 percent of poll respondents from saying that they will use their cell phones when driving.
Distracted Driving Categories
Distracted driving happens when a motor vehicle operator takes their focus away from the road. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and the outcome can be catastrophic. The types of distractions are categorized into three groups:
- Cognitive distractions: This involves thinking about something other than the road such as texting, daydreaming, talking to a passenger or fatigue.
- Visual distractions: This type of distraction also involves texting as well as searching for something in the vehicle, adjusting the radio or looking in the mirror while grooming.
- Manual distractions: Taking one’s hands off the wheel to text, eat or take care of children or pets are examples of manual distractions.
Activities That Cause Distracted Driving
Studies show that some activities are more likely to be involved in distracted driving. The most common are:
- Using a cell phone: Hands down, using a cell phone is the most frequent cause of a distracted driving accident. This is because this activity requires the use of all three types of driving distractions, visual, manual and cognitive. Composing or reading an average text takes the driver’s eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. If the vehicle is moving at 55 mph, it travels the length of a football field in that amount of time. On a crowded highway, this can be disastrous.
- Adjusting gadgets: Unfortunately, many drivers wait until they are on the road to adjust their seat belts, radio, climate control, mirrors or GPS. Authorities advise that doing this before starting out prevents many fatal accidents.
- Rubbernecking: Drivers often take their eyes off the road to scan an accident or a police stop. A minimum of 7 percent of drivers involved in a distracted driving accident admitted they were engaged in watching a collision or a police stop when they crashed into another vehicle.
- Talking to passengers: This is a major cause of distracted driving for drivers, especially teenagers. It is recommended that teens do not drive with other teens until they are experienced. Many accidents occur when drivers take their focus off the road to interact with passengers, children or a pet.
How to Curtail Distracted Driving
There are things you can do to cut back on any distractions when driving:
- Leave a message on your cell phone telling callers that if you are in transit you will be unable to speak to them right away. Ask them to leave a number where they can be reached.
- Set the climate control and the radio before leaving on the trip.
- Set up the GPS before leaving also.
- Adjust the mirrors and the seats so you are comfortable before starting out.
- Keep your eyes on the road during the trip.
- Refrain from getting into heated or emotional discussions with passengers when driving.
- If fatigued during the drive, try to find a safe place to pull over and rest.
The Olinde Law Firm – New Orleans Car Accident Lawyers
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