It does not matter if you are sipping a cup of coffee, taking a drag of your morning cigarette, talking to your kids on your hands-free device, or negotiating what to make for dinner with your spouse who is sitting in the passenger seat. If you are doing any of these things while driving, you are doing so while distracted.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving has become a deadly public health crisis that affects each and every one of us. In 2016, drivers who were distracted by activities other than driving, caused almost 3,200 car crashes that resulted in fatalities. Logically, most if not all drivers understand that they need to focus on driving when they are sitting at the wheel. And yet, so many of us believe the false notion that we can multitask, even when our lives literally depend on our ability to concentrate on the immediate task at hand.
Causes of Distracted Driving
Safestart is an agency devoted to the reduction of damage, injury, and human error that occurs in private as well as public and occupational settings. Culled from research, behavioral evaluations, as well as statistical analyses and investigations of car crashes and their resultant fatalities, the following were identified as the top five causes of distracted driving.
- Internal Distractions and Being Lost in Thought
Nagging aches, plans for the future, worries about our finances, and even daydreaming are contributing factors to distracted driving. The reality is that driving for long periods of time, especially on long stretches of highway with nary another commuter in sight, lends itself to getting lost in thought. However, it is our obligation as operators of machinery weighing at upwards of 3,000 pounds to focus intently on our driving.
- Cell Phone Use With and Without Hands Free Service
Cell phones have been blamed, and rightly so, for thousands of car accidents. Our cell phones are no longer just phones, but televisions, radios, texting devices, small computers, and cameras. We can search fashion blogs, recipes, and work all from our devices, pretty much anywhere. We need to learn though, because our lives depend on it, how to drive first and do whatever we want with our cell phones thereafter. There is not a text, a video, or an email that is worth more than our lives.
- Accidents and Events Outside the Car
We have probably all stared a little too long at a car accident on the side of the road, a sunset on the horizon, or people collecting charity along a highway. The best way to become the accident others stare at is by focusing on events like these rather than driving past them.
- Other People in The Car
Friends and family are great. Having conversations and meaningful discourse is even better. Engaging while driving however, is hardly a good idea, as it pulls your attention away from the road.
- Reaching for Things in The Car
If you drop a pen, a quarter, or the snack you were hoping to enjoy on the way to work, it is best that you leave those items wherever they have fallen. That is of course unless you want to get into an accident!
- Other Distractions
Eating, adjusting the temperature, defogger, radio, and mirrors, having objects dart out in front of your car unexpectedly, and smoking are some of the other top driver distractions.
Risks of Distracted Driving
If we know how dangerous these behaviors can be, why do we continue to engage in them? Perhaps it is because after years of driving, many of us think we are invincible. When we subscribe to the rather adolescent belief that “it will never happen to me,” we lose sight of just how easily it could.
Some of the risks that result from distracted driving include:
- Vehicular Damage
- Driver's License Revocation
- Jail Time
- Steep Fines
What Can You Do if You Are the Victim of Distracted Driving?
After calling 911 and securing emergency medical help, you need to call Timothy J. Ryan and Associates. As a leader in personal injury law in Orange County, California, Timothy Ryan is a name you can trust if you are ever the victim of someone else's preventable and dangerous distracted driving.