According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving was responsible for nearly 3,500 fatal crashes and more than 390,000 injuries in 2015. Furthermore, it is estimated that around 660,000 people use electronic devices while driving each day in the United States. While texting and talking on the cell phone are obvious types of distractions, there are several other distractions that can put drivers and others on the road at risk. With the risk of injuries and death from distracted driving so high, it is important to avoid distractions to encourage your friends and family members to stay focused while driving.
Distracted Driving Involves 3 Categories:
1. Anything That Takes Your Eyes off the Road
This category relates to visual distractions. In order to stay safe, drivers must scan the road in front of them, while also checking mirrors on a regular basis. When they take their eyes off of the road, they are essentially driving blind, with no ability to see other cars, pedestrians, traffic signals, or obstacles in front of them. Thus, visual distractions are incredibly dangerous, and you should keep your eyes focused on the road at all times.
Common types of visual distractions include:
- Cell phones
- GPS devices
- Radio and A/C controls
- Digital entertainment or DVDs
- Checking the seatbelts of children while driving
2. Anything That Takes Your Hands off the Wheel
This category deals with manual distractions. These distractions cause you to take one or both hands off the wheel while driving, which is very dangerous. You should always have both hands on the wheel in case you need to steer clear of an obstacle or make evasive maneuvers to avoid an accident. If one or both hands are doing something else, you do not have adequate control over your car. Thus, you should avoid manual distractions and always have your hands on the steering wheel.
Common types of manual distractions include:
- Using a cell phone
- Eating something
- Holding a drink
- Fiddling with a GPS or radio and A/C controls
- Grabbing something from a purse or bag
- Petting an animal
3. Anything That Takes Your Mind off of Driving
This category involves cognitive distractions. While driving, you may have trouble concentrating on the road. Instead, your mind may wander or get side-tracked by a conversation or thought. If you aren’t focusing on driving, you may be unable to identify potential risks and take necessary maneuvers to avoid a collision. You’ll be driving, but you won’t be paying attention.
Common types of cognitive distractions include:
- Using a hands-free electronic device
- Having an emotional conversation with a passenger
- Thinking about issues unrelated to driving, such as work and family issues
- Listening to a podcast or radio
Understanding the Danger of Cell Phones & Hands-Free Devices
Cell phones are incredibly dangerous because they fall into all 3 categories. They take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off of driving. In order to stay safe, you should avoid using a phone while on the road. If you need to check your phone, you should pull over and park in a safe location.
Furthermore, hands-free devices are just as dangerous. Studies have found that drivers become more focused on the messages they are creating than on the road in front of them. In fact, if you draft a message verbally on a hands-free device, your mind will only register about 50% of the road in front of you, even if your eyes are wide open. This is because your mind can only do one thing at a time. It is like reading a book and having a conversation with someone simultaneously. Thus, you should avoid relying on hands-free devices while driving.
Dedicated Car Accident Attorneys Serving San Jose
Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP is committed to protecting the rights of clients to pursue compensation. If you were injured because of a drunk or distracted driver, we will work diligently to build your case. Our team of San Jose car accident lawyers will investigate the crash to gather evidence, and help you seek justice from those responsible.
We believe negligent or reckless drivers must be held accountable for their actions. Contact us today to discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable attorneys. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients.