The rate of traffic deaths on America’s roadways are on the rise. This alarming statistic can be attributed to a number of different factors, such as an increase in the number of miles driven. Nevertheless, driving distractions have a significant role to play in the increased number of fatal accidents, as statistics show that accidents related specifically to cell phone use and other distractions are on the rise as well.
Types of Driving Distractions
Driving distractions can be categorized into three main types:
- Cognitive distractions that take your mind off the task of driving
- Manual distractions that remove your hands from the wheel
- Visual distractions that take your eyes off the road
These categories are not mutually exclusive. In other words, a visual or manual distraction is also likely to be cognitive in nature as your mind is likely to be focused more on the distracting activity than on the task of driving.
Cell phone use is one type of driving distraction, but distracted driving extends far beyond the use of a cell phone. Any activity performed while driving that takes your mind off what you are doing is a distraction. This includes low-tech activities such as reading maps, adjusting climate controls, eating, grooming, etc.
Nevertheless, use of a cell phone for talking, texting, sending email, web browsing, etc. poses a particular threat because it involves cognitive, visual, and manual distraction all at the same time.
Government at the local, state, and federal levels have taken action to prevent cell phone use while driving. In forty-seven states, texting while driving is illegal. The District of Columbia and 16 states have taken the additional step of banning any use of a handheld cell phone while driving.
Some in the research and development sector of the telecommunications industry have taken the initiative to create smartphone apps that block emails, text messages, social media notifications, etc. while in the car, or else they send an automated message stating that the cell phone user is driving and unable to reply. While potentially helpful, these technological prevention measures require a cell phone user to opt in.
Ultimately, the driver is responsible for moderating his or her own habits in the interest of minimizing distractions and preventing accidents.
Whatever the cause of the distraction, the effects can be devastating. In the five seconds it takes to read a text message, a car going 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field, potentially causing a lot of damage to pedestrians and/or other drivers during that brief timespan. If you’ve had the misfortune to have sustained injury due to a distracted driver, you may be able to recover compensation. Contact a law office to arrange a consultation with an auto accident lawyer.