The Many Forms Of Distracted Driving

Debra Reynolds

distracted driving attorney representationOn any given day, in any given town or city across the country, someone is engaging in activities behind the wheel that distract them from their sole responsibility of driving safely and adhering to traffic laws. Although much has been published, reported on, studied, and discussed regarding the use of cell phones while driving and the very real consequences a split-second of distraction can cause behind the wheel, it is important to point out that there are many other forms of distraction that can have the same deleterious effects for drivers. Here are just a handful, some of which are called “high-risk behind-the-wheel activities” by the Texas Department of Transportation (www.txdot.gov/driver/share-road/distracted.html):

  • Eating
  • Smoking
  • Writing a quick note
  • Watching a video on your cell phone
  • Checking email
  • Responding to email
  • Texting
  • Adjusting the temperature
  • Adjusting the in-car entertainment system
  • Looking at the GPS map
  • Handing something to your children or disciplining your children

This is not an exhaustive list of the things drivers can do that distract them from paying attention to the road and their surround conditions. These examples most likely happen in combination rather than as a single distraction. How many times have you seen someone driving down the road holding food in one hand, cigarette in the other, all-the-while engaged in a conversation on their cell phone which is being cradled between their shoulder and cheek? Who is driving that vehicle? Take a closer look and you are likely to see their knees precariously navigating the commute “both-knees-on-the-wheel” style. How could you possibly react in a split second with all that multi-tasking distraction going on?
According to traffic safety experts, there are three main types of distractions:

  • Manual – distractions causing a driver to remove their hand/hands from the wheel (reaching for an item in your car…kleenex, soda, coffee, phone, etc.)
  • Visual – distractions causing a driver to remove the focus of the eyes from the road to the activity. (You spill the drink you reached for and naturally look down to see how big of a mess you’ve made)
  • Cognitive – mind wandering, a driver is thinking of other things so far removed from driving that the main attention is no longer on driving. (You have to get your kids to three different activities in three different locations, you are thinking about the meeting you have as soon as you get back to the office, and you now are wondering if you have time to get the coffee stain out of your car carpet and your close from the drink you just spilled)

The example above demonstrated all three types of distraction. Studies have shown that talking on a cell phone increases fourfold your risk of an automobile accident (relatively the same as if you were driving drunk). Adding texting (now two types of distraction present) into the equation and you are now eight times more likely to be involved in a car crash. (http://www.enddd.org/the-facts-about-distracted-driving/). It gets even more staggering for commercial drivers who create a risk 23 times greater for a car accident when they text while operating their vehicle. (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/distracted-driving).
There are many forms of distracted driving that present dangers while driving. That risk of dangerous or fatal car crashes only increases as more distractions are introduced during the operation of a vehicle. In reality, it is not just the potential for coffee stains that result from distracted driving. It is the potential peril that the danger imposes on your life, the life of your passengers, and the lives of others drivers that you share the road with that should play the biggest impact on all of us to choose to keep our focus on driving and nothing else until we make our destination safely. If you or someone you know has been in a car crash as a result of another individual’s distracted driving, call Reynolds and Reynolds Law Office today to discuss your case with an attorney.