While drunk driving gets considerable blame for car accidents, and rightly so, distracted driving is also a big problem for non-drunk drivers. Responsible driving requires your full attention to your driving as well as the roadways they’re traveling. You need to be aware of your speed, your surroundings, the other cars travelling near by - ahead of and behind you, and the conditions of the road. Too many accidents today are caused by a driver who isn’t paying attention as they should. We call this distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as "any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving."
The Centers for Disease Control reports that nine people are killed every day in distracted-driving incidents in the US. About one in five fatalities weren’t even driving—they were pedestrians, bicyclists, and not even inside a vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration further reports that 3,142 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2020.
An accident can happen in seconds and have a lifetime of repercussions. Maybe you can’t stop someone else from driving distracted, but you can pay attention and possibly avoid an accident.
What Is Distracted Driving?
As we see, distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s attention away from their driving and increases the chance of an accident. There are three basic types of distractions that divide your attention:
· Visual: looking elsewhere but the road
· Manual: handling something else instead of a steering wheel
· Cognitive: concentrating somewhere else besides your driving
Any one of these can lead to an accident. But it’s the combination of all three that makes distracted driving particularly serious.
Examples of actions that cause distracted driving are:
· Talking or texting on a cell phone
· Eating, drinking, or smoking while driving
· Using a GPS function such as Google Maps
· Adjusting the climate controls or the radio controls
· Other passengers in the vehicle, such as children
· Grooming or applying makeup
· Pets that aren’t in carriers moving around
· Slowing down to observe something outside the vehicle (aka, “rubbernecking”)
· Daydreaming and “zoning out,” without your full attention on driving.
Even glancing at the radio or some attraction outside you car window can cause you to stop looking ahead of you. Taking your hands of the wheel to do something else like searching for a song or music or texting means you have compromised the control of your vehicle. If you are paying attention to someone else such as your screaming child or rubbernecking an accident on the side of the road, congratulations - you are a distracted driver!
Texting While Driving
Since their introduction, smartphones have changed the way we live. From the latest news and weather 24/7, to streaming your music, to "googling" nearly anything, our phones are an integral part of today's modern lifestyle.
SMS, or “short message service,” better known as “texting,” sends direct messages from one device to another. Whether through a phone or with services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Voice, or other apps, texting is a convenient way to have a short discussion without taking too much time. In fact people are often texting instead of calling.
But engaging in texting while driving a vehicle is dangerous. The combination of visual, manual and cognitive distractions that can quickly and unexpectantly lead to an accident. Reading or sending a text takes about five seconds. At 55 mph, in 5 seconds, you’ll travel the length of a football field by the time you’ve finished reading or firing off that text.
Not only does texting take your visual and manual attention from your driving, it also takes away your cognitive attention. Though hands-free communication is slightly better, it isn't really safe either. Using a smartphone still leaves your cognitive attention elsewhere for up to 27 seconds after it ends, even at a red light. Your best bet is to not to read or respond to text messages until you are safely at your destination or have pulled over to a safe space.
Kansas City Car Accident Attorney
Play it safe—Do not be a distracted driver. If you are paying attention, you might be able to avoid a collision caused by a distracted driver on the road with you.
Unfortunately even if you follow the rules of the road and are being a responsible driver, other drivers may not be and will text while they’re driving, apply their makeup, or otherwise engage in behaviors that cause them to be distracted. When that happens and you are a victim of a accident caused by a distracted driver, you may need to press your case or even sue to make sure you are properly compensated for injuries and damages. In Kansas City, MO, the Popham Law Firm is very experienced in personal injury and specifically in car accident types of personal injury.
Since 1918, The Popham Law Firm has helped hundreds of people in many accident types, from simple fender benders to accidents involving injuries and property damage. We'll be happy to review your case and let you know if you have one and how to proceed. Contact us at (844) 243-2288, or use our online contact form to get started.