A variety of different distractions can crop up each day, seemingly out of nowhere and taking away from important tasks at hand. No matter if it is spending extra time scrolling on a smartphone instead of doing household tasks or even hopping from idea to idea when the focus should be on one singular task, distractions are incredibly easy to fall victim to. Certain types of distractions, however, can become quite dangerous when a person is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Some of the most dangerous distractions for drivers can result in serious injury and even death if not mitigated.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is the performance of any action that takes a motorist’s attention away from the road. This can include anything from simply being lost in thought to the driver taking their hands off of the wheel entirely. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving behaviors claimed the lives of over 3,000 drivers in 2020 and these issues cause one-tenth of all car accidents and result in fatalities.
Distracted driving behaviors generally fall into three groups:
- Visual distractions occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road by engaging in activities such as texting, looking at directions on the GPS or looking in the mirror, trying to find something inside of a purse or otherwise in the car, adjusting the temperature in the car or the volume on the stereo, and/or scrolling through music apps.
- Manual distractions occur when a driver takes their hands off of the car’s steering wheel to text, eat or drink, brush their hair, put on makeup, light a cigarette, adjust their child’s car seat, or tend to a pet.
- Cognitive distractions occur when a driver takes their mind off of the task of driving by texting, speaking to a passenger in their car or someone on the phone (even if on a handsfree device), getting lost in thought and daydreams, or because they are tired due to drowsiness, poor sleep, or fatigue.
Because texting involves all three of these functions, it is the most common contributor to distracted driving incidents and is also considered the most dangerous.
The Most Dangerous Distractions for Drivers
Most people are well aware of the dangers distracted driving presents; unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from engaging in these behaviors which can have a serious impact on others on the road if a devastating car accident results. Some distractions, however, are riskier than others. The five most dangerous distractions for drivers include:
- Cell Phone Use: Nearly everyone has a cellphone, and these devices are a huge source of distraction. Drivers can be found texting, calling, checking emails, posting on social media, and even watching videos while driving. Not only are these behaviors incredibly dangerous for drivers, but they also put their passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians at risk.
- Eating While Driving: Some drivers may be in a rush and not have time for a sit-down meal, but it’s never okay to eat while driving. This is incredibly dangerous because it involves the driver taking their hands off the wheel and focusing their attention on the task of eating instead of the task of driving defensively.
- Personal Grooming: Fixing hair, brushing teeth, or even putting on makeup are all distracted driving behaviors that reckless drivers engage in. Personal grooming does not need to happen behind the wheel and drivers shouldn’t put others at risk just because they are running late.
- Talking to Passengers: Many people engage in conversation with passengers while they are driving, not realizing that this is even dangerous. Talking to passengers while driving is a cognitive distraction, which is just as dangerous as a driver taking their eyes off of the road or their hands off of the steering wheel.
- Radios, Music, and Navigation Systems: Nearly everyone has absentmindedly changed the radio station, looked for a new artist on their Spotify account, or tapped on their vehicle navigation system or GPS. However, these are dangerous activities to engage in while driving. As cars are becoming more advanced, many center consoles in cars have screens with complicated menus. This makes fussing with anything on the dashboard dangerous because it takes the driver’s eyes off of the road and their hands off of the wheel. Drivers should only make adjustments like this when they completely stopped – and sometimes, even if they are sitting in traffic they should still not engage in this behavior so they can watch for pedestrians, light changes, or other important road condition changes.
Other distractions include:
- Reading maps or other materials
- Not looking at the road and/ or “zoning out”
- Waiting too long to use the restroom
By now, we all know distracted driving is dangerous; however, despite increased public awareness of the issue, the rate of distracted driving is rising. At any given moment during daylight hours, approximately 660,000 people are talking or texting on a cell phone or using some type of electronic device while driving in the U.S. In fact, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, the number of distracted driving accidents statewide in 2018 was more than 95,000.
Distracted drivers are dangerous to other motorists, pedestrians, and anyone on or near a roadway. They tend to follow too closely, ignore traffic lights and stop signs, and fail to abide by posted speed limits. Distracted drivers injure and kill thousands of people every year because they refuse to obey the law.
Houston Distracted Driving Accidents
Driving is a privilege and a huge responsibility. Drivers who are not up to the task of driving safely shouldn’t get behind the wheel. When distracted drivers cause car accidents, they should be held accountable for their actions. Anyone injured in a Houston distracted driving accident has the right to seek compensation from the negligent driver that caused the crash.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact a Houston distracted driving lawyer at Dax F. Garza, P.C. today for a free consultation. We can analyze your situation and explain the legal options available to you.