Texting while driving has gained a lot of attention in recent years. The dangers have been revealed by multiple studies and tragic accidents. Documentaries illustrate the heartbreaking consequences and multiple campaigns have sprung up telling all drivers that it can wait. While texting behind the wheel is a very real problem, it is sadly not the only source of a much larger issue known as “distracted driving.”
Distracted driving is defined as, “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving,” and it poses a very real threat to motorists, pedestrians, and anyone else sharing the road. In 2010, 1 out of every 5 accidents involved an instance of driver distraction. Even more frightening is the fact that the newest generation of drivers is the most likely to engage in attention diverting activities while driving. In fact, studies show that 11 percent of drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal accidents were distracted at the time.
Texting and general cellphone usage is typically the highest ranking form of distraction, especially among this younger group of drivers. However, there are other, equally dangerous activities that take place behind the wheel all the time. Here are some of the more common causes of driver distraction that should be avoided to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of those around you:
- Objects Outside the Vehicle – Noticing things happening outside the confines of your own vehicle accounts for the largest percentage (29.4) of all driving distractions. Billboards, road signs, or other drivers can all pose a threat to your attentiveness if you aren’t careful. While it’s necessary to be aware of your surroundings and drive cautiously, it is equally important not to allow yourself to become preoccupied by anything that could potentially thwart your attention during a critical time. Remember that when traveling at a speed of 55 mph, it takes only 5 seconds to cover the distance of a football field.
- Eating and Drinking – While it may not seem like an activity that would really take your mind of the road, eating and drinking while driving is particularly dangerous. Your hands are constantly leaving the steering wheel in order to grab your drink or hold a sandwich. It also carries a high possibility that you will spill your food or drink, causing a momentary distraction that can have serious consequences.
- Makeup Application – Attempting to look constantly back and forth from the road to the mirror is the perfect recipe for an accident. Multitasking is best left outside the car. When attempting to focus on more than one thing at a time, performance takes a sharp decline and the area that truly needs your attention is neglected for seconds at a time. In fact, research has shown that both brake reaction time and following distance are significantly worse in drivers attempting dual tasks.
- Tending to Children – According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers rank passengers as the most common source of distraction. Children in particular are not only more demanding of your attention, but because younger children are also in the back of the vehicle, you may turn your head to speak to or check on them. In cases where children are demanding your attention to settle a squabble, hand something to them, or help in any other regard, it’s wisest to wait until you have pulled over, or at a complete stop before tending to them.
- Cellphones – As previously discussed, cellphones are among the top driver distractions and are also one of the most deadly. Statistics show that texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash, and driver impairment by those using their phones is comparable to that of driving while intoxicated. While having a cellphone can be lifesaving during times of emergency, it can just as quickly turn deadly if used at the wrong time. Only use your phone when you’re vehicle is not in drive.
As New Orleans auto injury attorneys, we hear stories and witness the consequences of distracted driving on a daily basis. There are far too many devastating accidents that could have been avoided by cautious and responsible driving. Next time you get behind the wheel, consider the many unfortunate outcomes that can result from distracted driving, and make it a point to keep your attention on the road.
If you have been injured as the result of another’s distracted driving, contact our office to speak with one of our experienced accident attorneys. To request your free case evaluation, simply click here, or call us directly at (225) 387-2323.