Consequences of Driver Distraction

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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every day in the United States approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured in crashes reported to have involved a distracted driver. Distracted driving is a serious hazard that every driver is susceptible to. While it might not seem like a big deal to quickly check a text while sitting in traffic, a lot can happen in the brief seconds your eyes are not on the road. It’s also important to remember that at any given time, there may be any number of distracted drivers sharing the road with you, so remaining actively aware and practicing defensive driving techniques is paramount to the safety of both the driver and passengers.

There are three categories of driver distractions according to the CDC:

  • Visual: Visual distractions involve a driver taking their eyes off the road. For example, looking at a phone, other passengers in the car, and even distractions outside the vehicle constitute visual distractions.
  • Manual: Manual distractions include any kind of distraction that involves a driver taking their hands off the wheel. For example, eating, drinking, or reaching for something in another seat of the car all constitute manual distractions.
  • Cognitive: Cognitive distractions may be harder to immediately identify. Rather than involving a tangible distraction, cognitive distraction occurs when the driver’s mind is focused on something other than driving.

Technically, texting while driving actually falls into all three categories of driver distractions, so it is important to avoid at all costs. In an emergency, use hands-free voice-texting if possible, or simply pull over to the side of the road.

Texting while driving and hand-held phone usage are banned in many states.

All 50 states have laws prohibiting texting while driving. Violating these laws could result in a variety of penalties from severe fines to jail time depending on the consequences of the choice. Additionally, many states have also banned hand-held phone use, employing the “one-touch” rule; if the desired function cannot be completed on a phone with one touch, it should not be done while driving. Bluetooth and voice-activated calling have helped to reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road, but all drivers remain susceptible to the risk.

Distracted driving leads to collisions.

It goes without saying that distracted driving leads to collisions. These collisions can range from relatively minor to catastrophic, with the one identifying feature that the distracted driver does not have control of the vehicle because they were not paying attention. While some accidents might have occurred even without the addition of distracted driving, when a driver avoids distractions, they are able to respond quickly and effectively to an unexpected situation on the road. Distracted drivers are taken by surprise when other drivers make poor choices around them.

Studies by the CDC have even linked habitual distracted driving with a higher likelihood of failing to wear a seatbelt, driving while intoxicated, and agreeing to be a passenger in a car where the driver is intoxicated. It is essential to prioritize safety above all else while operating a vehicle, both for yourself as well as your passengers and the passengers of other vehicles. To learn more about distracted driving or if you were injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, seek legal counsel.