It’s Not Just Cell Phones That Cause Distracted DrivingWhenever there is a traffic accident on a roadway, there is one action that we all are guilty of doing. While slowly moving through traffic, we take a glance at how bad the traffic accident is. The more horrific the traffic accident, the slower the vehicles travel through the congested traffic.

Even though it is natural for some people to satisfy their curiosity and take a look at the damage done by a traffic accident, drivers who take a glance temporarily have committed the offense of “rubbernecking,” a form of distracted driving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from driving. Every day, eight people in the United States are killed in accidents that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Drivers who engage in distracted driving underestimate the danger they are putting themselves and other motorists in when taking their attention off of the road for even one second.

What makes distracted driving so dangerous?

As drivers, we know how quickly a car accident can happen on the road. That one second that a driver takes their eyes off of the road may be the one second where the drivers in front of them perform an unexpected action. A driver may decide to slam on their brakes unexpectedly, or the flow of traffic may begin to slow down. This is what makes distracted driving so dangerous. When a driver’s attention is taken off of the road, the driver is more likely to miss critical actions or cues and no longer remain in control of their vehicle.

Those missed cues can be deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2019 that distraction was the primary factor in 3,142 traffic fatalities.

What are the three main types of distractions?

Driving distractions are classified into three categories: cognitive, manual, and visual.

The most dangerous types of distractions are cognitive distractions. A cognitive distraction is any mental distraction that takes your mind off of driving. These are simple thoughts such as what is for dinner tonight that cause the driver’s mind to drift away from driving temporarily. Cognitive distractions are dangerous because they can influence us to transition into a trance-like state and drive on autopilot, taking our minds off of the road.

Manual distractions are physical distractions that can take your mind off of the road, like a newspaper, piece of food, makeup kit, or a bottle of water. Any physical object that takes your hands off of the wheel can be an example of a manual distraction. These types of distractions are responsible for slowing a driver’s reaction time to particular obstacles, like an animal or a pedestrian crossing the road.

The last type of distraction is a visual distraction, which is any visual obstacle that takes your mind off of the road. Some examples of a visual objection would be a traffic accident on the side of the roadway, a billboard, reading the newspaper, or even the passengers traveling inside your vehicle. A driver who takes their eyes off of the road is at risk of losing awareness of the traffic signals around them, making the possibility of a traffic accident even greater.

What are some examples of distracted driving?

One of the common examples of distracted driving is the use of a cellphone while driving. The NHTSA reports that texting is the most alarming distraction to driving. A driver’s eyes are taken off of the road for five seconds when he or she reads or sends a text. For a driver traveling at 55 miles per hour, that is the equivalent of driving an entire football field without keeping their eyes on the road.

Other examples of distracted driving include tending to a pet in the vehicle, rubbernecking or slowing down to view an accident, adjusting your GPS system, drinking liquids like water or juice, and grooming yourself while driving. Even something as simple as turning the radio station is considered distracted driving.

How can you avoid distracted driving?

There are several things drivers can do to ensure they remain focused on the road. One important step is to resist the urge to multitask while driving. Any actions that will take your attention off of the road that can be performed before driving, like adjusting the radio station or fixing the mirrors, should be done before operating the vehicle. Drivers can also take advantage of several cellphone apps that reduce the number of wireless distractions while driving. Turn your phone to “do not disturb” while you’re driving to ensure that you aren’t distracted by phone calls or text messages. Leave plenty of time to get where you need to go so that you are not distracted by the time. If you find yourself daydreaming while driving, it might be time to pull over somewhere safe and stretch a bit.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to model good driving behavior. If you text behind the wheel, chances are good your kids will too. Make sure to talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving, and to put your phone away when you are behind the wheel.

Motor vehicle accidents can make your life difficult; choosing the right auto accident lawyer serving Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, or Pigeon Forge shouldn’t be. You can’t control other people, but you can make sure you’re doing the right thing behind the wheel. If you were hurt by a distracted driver while in your car, on your motorcycle, or by a commercial truck, we have the skills, experience, and resources you want on your side. Please call Delius & McKenzie, PLLC at 865-428-8780 or complete our contact form to learn more about the benefits of working with a local Sevierville auto accident lawyer after you have been hurt in a car accident. Proudly serving Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding areas.