Distracted driving does not just make the simple act of driving more complicated for you. It also makes for a dangerous experience on the road for you and other drivers and passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 3,142 fatalities due to distracted driving in 2019 alone. 13% of these said crashes involved the use of cell phones.
While cell-phone use plays a significant part in distraction-related accidents, there are many other activities that count as distractions while driving. Eating, talking to passengers, fixing your appearance, and other things also count as distracted driving.
Before we begin to talk about its many consequences, we must first know what exactly constitutes distracted driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Simply put, anything that takes your attention away from the road and the act of driving counts as a distraction. The NHTSA has three major classifications for distractions on the road:
- Visual – things that make the driver look away from the road;
- Cognitive – things that make the driver’s mind wander from the task of driving; and
- Manual – things that cause the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel.
The most common distractions usually fall into at least two of these three categories, while the most dangerous ones involve being distracted in all three categories.
Legal Consequences of Distracted Driving
States have their own laws to keep people from being distracted while driving. These usually include a ban on using mobile phones while driving and the requirement of hands-free devices.
States also impose penalties and fines for driving while distracted. However, Alaska is one state that makes violators pay fines and sometimes even has them serve jail time for up to one year. It is also possible to serve time in Utah, depending on the weight of the offense.
Being caught driving while distracted is one thing. Causing an accident while being distracted is another matter entirely. When an accident occurs and other people get injured, their statements can be used against you in court.
Motorcyclists are a group of drivers that are particularly vulnerable should collisions occur. In the event of sustained injury, damage to the vehicle, or both, they can call on a motorcycle accident attorney to help them get fair compensation from the offender, which can come in the form of payment for medical expenses and motorcycle repair costs.
Remember that being involved in a car accident can not only cause injuries to other parties, it could also lead to death. In these instances, responsible drivers can serve jail time and even go to court for unintentional vehicular homicide.
Tips for Safe and Responsible Driving
Fortunately, avoiding the issues that come with distracted driving is not complicated at all. These good habits are small and simple, but go a long way into making the road a safer place for every driver, passenger, and pedestrian that you share it with. Think of these three P’s to stay safe:
Prepare what you need to before driving off.
Many drivers get distracted while driving because they did not make sure that everything they needed was good to go before leaving the house. If this is a recurring problem on your end, keep a checklist of things you usually need. These may include texting family that you’ve left the house and doing your makeup.
While in the car, make sure that your side mirrors, rear-view mirror, car seats, and steering wheel are all in the proper positions to avoid having to adjust them while driving. If you listen to music, have a playlist prepared beforehand, too.
Pull over when necessary.
In the event that you really need to fix something while driving, it is wisest to pull over before trying to take care of it. Watch out for the nearest area where you can park and take that phone call, arrange your things, or do whatever you have to do.
Put the cell phone down.
Cell phones are really some of the most distracting things any person has in the car while driving, but it really is much safer to just leave it where you’ve placed it. Whatever you are thinking of doing with your phone, it is most likely not as urgent as maintaining safety on the road. Install apps that help you focus on the road if the impulse is hard to control.
Just a brief moment of distraction could cause the biggest of accidents. Think about your responsibility to yourself and other people while on the road. Being aware of this allows you to maintain your concentration while driving.