When we hear the phrase “distracted driving,” we often think of texting. This is with good reason, as texting is a particularly invasive distraction that involves three distinct components. There is the manual aspect, which involves taking a hand off the wheel, the visual component in which the driver takes his or her eyes off the road, and the cognitive element wherein the driver is too busy focusing his or her mental energy on the text conversation to pay much attention to the road ahead.
Distracted driving is much more than just texting, though. Almost anything can be a distraction when done behind the wheel.
- Eating and drinking: taking a hand off the wheel to reach for your morning coffee or grab a quick snack means that you are less capable of reacting to a sudden hazard like debris in the road or a vehicle entering your lane. Keeping both hands on the wheel gives you the ability to react quickly and confidently.
- Using a GPS device: whether you are reading the directions directly from a device or are listening intently to spoken directions, these can both be distracting.
- Boisterous and lively conversation: an involved conversation with passengers can be engrossing, to the exclusion of traffic levels, road hazards and other things requiring immediate attention. This is particularly hazardous for teen drivers, who lack the experience necessary to react to sudden changes even when they are fully paying attention.
- “Infotainment” systems: new vehicles have integrated technology that can stream music, allow occupants to surf the web, play audiobooks, control the car’s climate and more. These systems are helpful in many ways, but they are still inherently distracting. Using them when the vehicle is stopped – preferably before your journey begins – is a great way to utilize them safely.
Distracted drivers cause thousands upon thousands of accidents each year. Consider contacting a personal injury attorney if an inattentive driver’s actions resulted in your injuries.