Distracted driving is any form of activity that diverts a person’s attention away from their primary task of driving. Distractions can cause speeding, drowsiness, and irrational risk taking, among other things. Essentially, there are three types of possible distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive.
Visual: distraction that makes the driver look at anything other than the road ahead. These distractions can come from sources inside or outside of the vehicle.
- Internal sources: talking to and looking at other passengers in the vehicle, looking at the entertainment system, looking for an item that may have dropped to the ground, looking at a GPS navigation device, etc.
- External sources: looking at a billboard, gawking at a car accident, watching other vehicles, etc.
Manual: distraction that causes the driver to take one or both hands off of the steering wheel.
- Eating, drinking, smoking
- Texting, emailing, talking on the phone
- Adjusting the volume or navigation system
- Adjusting mirrors and seats
- Retrieving anything from purse or wallet
Cognitive: distraction that occurs when the driver’s mind isn’t focused on driving.
- Work, family, or financial issues occurring outside of the driving
- Audio in the car
- Talking to other passengers
Sometimes there can be a combination of distractions. One of the most dangerous, yet most common, distractions that combines all three types is texting. Texting takes your vision off the road, takes at least one hand off of the wheel, and involves some sort of thinking other than focusing on the road. People often look down at their phone for up to 5 seconds while sending a text or email. If you’re doing that while traveling at 55 miles per hour, you’re driving distracted and blindly for almost the entire length of a football field. None of these distractions listed above are necessary in order to operate a vehicle, but are done out of habit or convenience and this can be detrimental to other drivers on the road.
The Negative Impact of Distracted Driving
Each day, 9 people are killed in crashes involving distracted drivers. Each day 1,060 people are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers. Reportedly, distracted driving behaviors lead to more than 420,000 injuries and more than 3,100 deaths each year in the United States.
As much as people would like to think that they can “multi-task,” most of the time it ends up being “task switching.” We don’t have the cognitive ability to perform more than one task simultaneously, as much as we try. This subtle task switching can be very dangerous while operating a motor vehicle and should be avoided by all means.
How to Keep the Roads Safe
Drivers have a legal obligation to obey the rules of the road and to operate their vehicles in a reasonable and responsible manner. Some ways to fulfill this duty are to:
- Drive at a safe speed
- Maintain control of the vehicle
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Observe traffic signals
- Use directional signals and headlights
- Avoid unnecessary distractions
If you or a loved one have been in a motor vehicle accident and have suffered from injuries due to someone else’s distracted driving behaviors, the personal injury attorneys at Hovde Dassow + Deets can help you obtain the compensation and justice that you deserve. Contact Hovde Dassow + Deets today at (317) 576-3241, initial, and confidential consultation to discuss your potential case.