When asked about distractions on the road, plenty of people would likely list texting and calling someone else when driving—and those definitely belong on the list. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when you send or read a text, you’ve been distracted for five seconds. If driving 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of “driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
Scary as that is, phone-related issues aren’t the only distractions that can lead to accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that there are, in fact, three broad types of distractions that can lead to crashes:
- Visual: This can include any activity that causes you to take your eyes off of the road.
- Manual: This encompasses anything that causes you to remove your hands from the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: This form of distraction occurs when you aren’t focused on your driving.
In this post, we’ll list several examples of distractions that fit into one or more of these three categories, and are less often discussed than texting while driving. Then, we’ll share how to respond if you or a family member is a victim of a car accident because of a distracted driver.
Chatting With Other People
You don’t need a phone to become distracted during conversations. This can also happen with the people who are in the vehicle with you. Drivers might look at the person in the passenger seat when talking to him or her, or in the rearview mirror to see the expression of the people in the backseat when telling an interesting story. In either case, the driver’s eyes are off the road.
Mulling Over the Past or Present
Maybe you’ve had a really bad day at work. Or, maybe you’ve had an especially good one! In either case, if—while driving—you keep revisiting what happened, this takes your attention off the road. The same is true if you’re dreading or anticipating what you have planned for the evening, or for the next day. Daydreaming on the road can be dangerous.
Adjusting In-Car Features
Whether it’s changing the radio station, volume control, GPS/navigation technology, or even your heat or A/C controls, any adjustments you make that takes your attention away from the road can be classified as a driving distraction.
What’s On the Radio
If your favorite song comes on the radio, it’s tempting to turn the volume up and rock out. Or even if you’re listening to a sporting event, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of an incredible play. Either of these can capture more of the driver’s attention than what could be safe.
Events Going on Around You
Maybe there’s an outside festival being celebrated. Perhaps you’re passing an accident scene that’s still being processed. Or, there could be an entertaining or informative new billboard on the roadside. Again, if it focuses your attention away from driving, this can become a distraction.
Eating and Drinking
It’s not unusual to feel like snacking on a long road trip or to stop and get something to eat on the go after a long day at work. It’s normal to be thirsty, too! But, eating and drinking while driving can be distracting and require your hands to be involved in something other than steering and otherwise navigating your vehicle.
Maybe your cell phone or your wallet or purse rolled off the seat and hit the floor. Whatever it is, if it’s something you don’t want to misplace, it can be a natural reaction to want to root around for it while driving.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
In 2018, the NHTSA reported 2,841 deaths because of distracted driving (and that doesn’t count the large numbers of injuries, sometimes severe). Of that number, 1,730 were drivers, with 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists also losing their lives because of distractions while driving.
The good news is that you can choose to remain aware of potential distractions and not engage in them. If you have teen drivers in the family, you can talk to them about these issues. But, unfortunately, you don’t have control over other drivers on the road—and, if you or a loved one become victims of a car accident, it’s important to know how to react.
In a Car Accident? How to Respond
When in a car accident, it’s important to first contact the police, reporting the accident and sharing information about any injuries. It’s also crucial to obtain medical help as quickly as possible. The reality is that not all injuries are immediately apparent, which means that damage to internal organs, including the brain, may not yet be obvious.
The sooner you obtain medical attention, the more this can help if you need to make a personal injury claim. If there is too much of a gap between the accident and medical care, the insurance company could claim the injuries occurred elsewhere.
If you can, take photos after the accident, including damage to the vehicles, any injuries, and so forth. When police arrive, answer questions but don’t admit any guilt. If the other driver’s insurance company asks you to make a statement, don’t. Document details of the accident, as well as expenses you need to pay because of it. Keep a record of pain and other symptoms you may experience.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
To help make sure that each of these steps is effectively managed, contact an experienced car accident lawyer. Doing so can help you to obtain fair compensation for injuries and losses suffered due to the car accident.
For your free consultation with an auto accident lawyer who will work hard to fight for the compensation you deserve, call Harrell & Harrell, P.A., now at 904-251-1111.