Three Types Of Distracted Driving
While most folks associate distracted driving with texting and cell phone use, the fact is that distractions have been causing accidents since the first drivers got behind the wheel over a century ago. And while many of today’s distractions are only a few years or decades old, anything that takes your eyes off of the road, even for a split second, can lead to a crash that leaves people injured or worse.
In fact, many of the behaviors we engage in all the time while driving could lead to auto accidents, even if we don’t think of them as “distractions.” Changing the station or adjusting the volume on your stereo? Distraction. Looking in the rearview mirror to tell your kids to stop fighting? Distraction. That beautiful landscape outside your window? Distraction.
Most of the attention and efforts to reduce distractions while driving over the past 20 years have focused on texting and cell phones, and rightly so. There is no question that playing with our phones has been the biggest reason for an increase in distracted driving accidents during that time. But if we really want to prevent injuries and save lives from distracted drivers, we need to consider more than just our phones.
Distracted Driving Defined
In 2019, over 3,142 Americans lost their lives and approximately 400,000 other people suffered injuries in distracted driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many of those killed or hurt were not in vehicles – distracted drivers killed 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists that year.
As noted, cell phone use and texting are the leading distractions that cause drivers to take their eyes off the road. Reading or sending a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. A crash is almost inevitable.
But the definition of distracted driving doesn’t mention cell phones. The NHTSA defines distracted driving as “any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.”
The NHTSA identifies three types of distracted driving:
- Visual — the driver’s eyes are not on the road
- Manual — the driver’s hands are not the wheel
- Cognitive — the driver’s mind is not on the thing they should be focusing on
Some distractions while driving involve only one of these types, but some involve all three. Texting is the perfect storm because it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind to whatever it is the text said and whatever it is you text back.
Other than cell phone use, here are three other leading causes of distracted driving accidents.
Talking to a person on the phone and talking to a person sitting next to or behind you in your car can both lead to distractions while driving. Whether it’s turning around to talk to your kids or looking at the person sitting in your passenger seat, the NHTSA estimates that talking to passengers was the leading distraction in 7,000 crashes every year.
GPS Devices and Other Onboard Electronics
Today’s vehicles come with a whole bunch of electronic systems designed to entertain us, keep us safe, or help us get to where we’re going. There are cameras, video screens, and a whole bunch of buttons and controls to mess with. All of these systems require the same type of visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver as sending a text message, making them just as dangerous.
Even the humble radio can draw your attention away from the road. Changing stations or fast-forwarding to the next song on your playlist may seem like second nature, but they can be the first step in a tragic chain of events.
Eating and Drinking
Find a driver who has never taken a bite or a sip while behind the wheel, and you’ll find someone who is lying about never eating or drinking while driving. It is something we all do from time to time, whether drinking coffee on our morning commute or eating a fast-food burger while on a long road trip.
But the act of eating or drinking, combined with the mental focus on not spilling or dropping anything, can be as distracting as texting. An insurance company in the United Kingdom issued a study confirming that when it comes to reducing a driver’s reactions, snacking while driving was on par with using a cell phone. The report concluded that “the mental workload required to eat, drink and drive at the same time was significantly raised, indicating that drivers who consume en-route have a greatly reduced ability to deal with other events.”
Injured In An Accident With a Distracted Driver? Call Lake County Car Accident Attorney Kirk Moyer Today.
No matter what distraction caused another driver to hit your car and injure you or your passengers, you deserve compensation for injuries and losses that were not your fault. Lake County auto accident attorney, Kirk Moyer, has earned a reputation for service and success representing and recovering substantial damages for injury victims in Lake County and throughout Chicagoland, including those hurt in distracted driving accidents. Please contact Kirk today to arrange for your FREE initial consultation.