Driving has become such a part of our daily routine that we tend to forget that it is an inherently complex act that demands all of our attention. We have to maintain visual contact with the world around us, so we can adjust our speed to avoid sudden dangers or change our position to meet changing conditions. We use our manual dexterity to turn the steering wheel and change the pressure on the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals. Finally, our cognitive function helps us process all the information we receive, so we can instinctively take the correct action.
One of the most dangerous activities that nearly all of us have participated in at one time or another is distracted driving. Although a broad term, distracted driving refers to anything that takes your attention away from the road while driving. Something as simple as talking with a passenger or singing along with our favorite song creates a distraction.
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. So, if traveling at 55 miles per hour, it equals driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. Scary, right?
There are three main types of distraction:
Adjusting the radio is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. At any given time, over half a million drivers are manipulating devices such as radios while driving. One danger of changing the radio while driving is the manual distraction. By taking one hand off the wheel, you reduce your reaction time and increase the risk of an accident. But radios can also pose a cognitive distraction. When listening to talk radio, your mind is focused on the radio and is distracted from the task of driving.
The restaurant business, at least when it comes to fast food, seems specifically created to cater to eating and driving. And while there are no expressed laws against eating and driving, here are a whole lot of reasons why the activity is so dangerous. For one, eating behind the wheel is the epitome of multitasking. Eating and driving almost always leads to driving without both hands on the steering wheel. Drivers must unwrap food items, apply sauce packets and condiments, clean up spills and crumbs, throw away trash, and more – all while trying to navigate through traffic. If your hands are off the wheel when you are eating, your eyes probably are too. What happens when sauce drips out of the burger? Our eyes (and hands) are trying to find the splotch instead of trying to stay on our side of the road. And chances are your mind is not on your driving at all at this point. It is on that sauce.
With your hands, eyes, and mind off the road your reaction time will naturally be much slower. This contributes to the potential for collisions as drivers cannot always react in time to make the necessary maneuvers to avoid car accidents. Studies have found that drivers’ reaction times when eating dropped by over 40% compared to their non-distracted counterparts.
You do not only use your eyes to drive, you also use your ears. Being able to hear what’s going on around the vehicle—such as the sounds of traffic, approaching emergency vehicles, or potential hazards like screeching tires—is essential to defensive and safe driving. Earbuds block out this all important ambient noise, which is very dangerous. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that listening to audio media through headphones, earphones, or earbuds not only further diminishes a driver’s ability to hear critical sounds around them, but also increases their cognitive distraction level.
It may seem impossible to control kids and pets when you are transporting them in your vehicle. Before you start driving, make sure that your child is safely strapped into an appropriate safety seat in the back of the car. If you do become distracted, remember, it is always a better idea to pull over and take care of the distraction before continuing on the road. Do your best to avoid turning around to speak to your kids and never reach for items to hand your kids while traveling at high speeds. Likewise, restraining your pet using a pet seat or a carrier is the safest way to transport your animal as human seatbelts can cause serious injury to them. And just like kids, keeping them in the backseat is the surest way to protect them from such dangers as air bags.
Of course, texting and driving is still a major distraction on California’s roads and in fact, even holding your phone while driving in the state is illegal. Although you are allowed to talk using a wireless device, all drivers must remember that even having a conversation takes your focus from the road and can be dangerous.
If your accident was caused by a distracted driver, tan experienced attorney can really help. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please contact our Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away. An experienced attorney can answer your questions, investigate the accident and file your paperwork to ensure that your case is properly prepared and filed within the time limit required by the court.
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