Man drinking coffee while driving; image courtesy of
Man drinking coffee while driving; image courtesy of

One man is cruising down the road, talking on his hands-free phone to a client, trying to squeeze in business calls before the office. He’s sipping his morning coffee, shuffling to get things into his briefcase and generally doing many activities at once. Another driver is applying her last-minute lipstick touch up at a red light and doesn’t see the light turn green. The man crashes into the back of her vehicle because he was too distracted to see that she wasn’t moving forward. Whilst neither driver was seriously injured, both drivers are guilty of distracted driving. In 2015, over 3,000 people were killed as a result of distracted driving and over 390,000 people were injured from distracted driving. It’s estimated that over 660,000 people use their phones or other devices while driving. But just how dangerous is distracted driving exactly?

Woman applying lipstick in car; image courtesy of
Woman applying lipstick in car; image courtesy of

Consider this, whilst you may think you’re simply catching up on phone calls, putting on some lipstick at a red light, rifling through your briefcase or searching for a dropped paper on your floor, how long are your eyes off the road? Have you ever found yourself looking for an item on the floor, looked up, and only just had time to slam on the brakes before hitting the car in front of you? How many times has a vehicle suddenly come off the exit ramp and been seen emerging from your blind spot? Road conditions can change rapidly and if your attention isn’t on the road, anything could happen. Even if an accident isn’t fatal, distracted driving is dangerous.

The three types of distracted driving are manual, visual, and cognitive distractions.

Manual distractions involve you taking your hands from the wheel for any reason (other than driving stick shift, of course) such as eating, drinking, adjusting radio dials, grooming, smoking, searching for items, helping a child with a car seat, and more. These distractions are dangerous because they impair your reaction time, stop you from being able to steer the vehicle safely in case of emergency, and may cause you to veer off the road.

Visual distractions involve anything that removes your eyes from the road such as operating a GPS, reading smartphone messages, browsing through your music playlist, putting on makeup, staring out the window at scenery, searching for lost items, adjusting dials, and others. Visual distractions cause driver blindness. When driving with visual distractions, you can no longer assess your surroundings or identify potential hazards.

Cognitive distractions are the most difficult type since these distractions take your mind from the road. These distractions include anything from daydreaming, talking to passengers, talking on speakerphone, checking email, driving when sleepy, road rage, thinking about upsetting things, listening to podcasts or music, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and other cognitive-centered activities. The National Safety Council notes that when talking on a hands-free phone, you miss 50% of the visual cues outside the windscreen.

No one would drive with their eyes closed whilst hurtling at 55 mph down the highway, so why drive distracted? It’s important that when driving, you try to concentrate on the road the entire journey. Be aware of everything going on around you and try not to get lost in thought, get distracted by those in the car with you, or rifle through the contents of your glove box.

If you have been the victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver, once you have been seen by a medical professional and had an examination of any injuries and gathered evidence on the scene, contact a trusted attorney to assist you with the next steps in your case prior to calling your insurance company. Coxwell & Associates, PLLC has over 36 years of experience helping with distracted driving cases and other accident-related cases. Contact us for a free case consultation.

Disclaimer: This post is intended for general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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