Distracted Driving: A Modern Epidemic

Distracted Driving: A Modern Epidemic

The words “distracted driving” can be tied closely to the phrase “texting and driving.” When you think of driving distracted, your mind likely wanders to an image of someone texting or using their phone behind the wheel. Cellphone usage is still the lead cause of distracted driving accidents, with an estimated 390,000 injuries sustained annually. However, there are many other forms of distractions behind the wheel, and many of them are done on a daily basis.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving simply refers to anything that causes your attention to shift away from the road. That’s right, anything that takes your eyes, limbs, or attention away from your task behind the wheel can fall under distracted driving. You may be thinking,

“But I only use my phone at stoplights and in traffic, I’m a good multitasker.”

Well, a study from the National Safety Council (NST) has shed some light on how multitasking impacts an individual’s ability to drive. Their findings prove that multitasking is a lie, especially when it comes to driving distracted. They state,

“Human brains do not perform two tasks at the same time. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another.”

This means that while you may think you’re “multitasking” you are really switching between driving safely and focusing on whatever distracting activity you’re choosing to do. This driving impairment claims thousands of lives each year, and the worst part is that driving distracted is 100% preventable.

Types of Distracted Driving

With distracted driving becoming a larger problem year-over-year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has broken down distractions into three categories:

Visual

Visual distractions are those that cause you to take your eyes away from the road. This is the most common distraction behind the wheel, as it comes in an almost endless number of forms. Some of the most commonly seen visual distractions include:

  • Cellphone usage
  • Changing the radio
  • Turning to talk to passengers
  • Watching a video
  • Grooming yourself
  • Eating

These distractions are all things that can be done before you step behind the wheel. Remember to leave extra time before you leave to take care of these things so that you don’t have to put yourself and others at risk.

Manual

Manual distractions are those that cause you to take your hands away from the wheel. These distractions limit your ability to react quickly in the event of a roadway emergency, which can lead to an accident that could have been easily prevented. The most commonly seen manual distractions include:

  • Cellphone usage
  • Eating
  • Changing the radio
  • Passing items to passengers
  • Grooming

Cognitive

These distractions are those which take your attention away from the road. Cognitive distractions are the least talked about form of distracted driving, partially because many people believe for them to not be a distraction at all. However, the truth is, many of these distractions are done every day:

  • Cellphone usage (even hands-free)
  • Listening to podcasts or e-books
  • Getting lost in personal life thoughts
  • Talking to passengers

These distractions are commonly seen as less dangerous, which in return makes people think they are “OK” to do—resulting in an increase of distracted driving, along with the possibility of additional accidents.

Prevention

As stated earlier, distracted driving is 100% preventable— meaning that choosing to do so is choosing to put your needs above the safety of others on the road. While the only true method of prevention is abstinence, there are other things that can be done to help prevent these accidents:

  • Don’t use your cellphone - If you need to use your cellphone for ANY reason, be sure to pull off to the side of the road before doing so. NEVER use your phone behind the wheel.
  • Eat before or after you drive— not during - If you find yourself eating on your drive, take 10 minutes out of your day to eat before or after your drive to ensure safety on the road.
  • Have a plan before you leave - Know where you are headed before your departure. This will prevent you from having to adjust your GPS while driving, allowing you to focus on the road.

At Easley and Houseal, our team of Arkansas car accident attorneys understands just how unsafe driving distracted is. It’s a selfish act that is claiming many lives and causing even more injuries each year. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to a distracted driver, there are options available for you.

Call us today at (870) 330-0015 to learn how we can help you recover. We offer free consultations to ensure those who have been injured wrongly have a place to have their questions answered.

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