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The Dangers of Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”

Read on to learn more about distracted driving.

Common Forms of Distracted Driving

While there are many different forms of distracted driving, certain behaviors occur more often than others. The following are some of the most common forms of distracted driving:

  • Mobile phone use
    • Mobile phone use is the most prevalent form of distracted driving on the roads today. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), in 2017, 14% of all distracted driving fatalities were the result of mobile phone use.
  • GPS
    • While GPS can be a useful tool for guiding you where you need to go, it also presents very real dangers. It’s important to set up your GPS route BEFORE you begin driving. Doing so while driving can be just as harmful as texting and driving. Even just looking down and away from the road for a few seconds to check on the GPS can be damaging. If you need to use GPS, it’s in your best interest to have it mounted to your windshield or dashboard so that you can easily see it while driving. Be sure the volume is turned up loud enough for you to hear it over the stereo and/or open windows. The goal here is to look at the screen as little as possible.
  • Changing the stereo or controls
    • There are certain comforts to consider when driving—the temperature, the music, the adjustment of your seat, etc. Even though looking down to push a button or two doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can be very harmful if not executed properly.
  • Makeup and grooming
    • It’s common to be in a rush when you’re heading out the door—especially if you’re going to work or school. Sadly, many people believe that their driving commute provides an opportunity for more time to put on makeup and/or groom. These activities require you to take your eyes off the road AND your hands off the wheel, which makes them particularly dangerous.
  • Socializing with passengers
    • If you have a passenger riding with you, it can feel rude not to speak to them. However, your attention to driving must always come first. Although it may feel like the appropriate thing to do, when you turn to look at your passenger, you’re forced to look away from the road. This is very dangerous and should be avoided at all times.
  • Looking away from the road ahead
    • While many of the aforementioned forms of distracted driving involve looking away from the road, it’s worth mentioning on its own as well. You may need to look for an address or landmark, there may be an accident and you’d like to see what happened, or there might be a double rainbow that you just have to see for a few more seconds. None of these behaviors seem explicitly dangerous, but anything that takes your vision and attention away from the road is considered a hazard.
  • Dealing with kids and/or pets
    • Even though it’s not really safe, many people who drive with pets do so without securing them in the vehicle. Unfortunately, when pets move around the vehicle or sit on your lap, they pose serious distractions. If you’re a parent, you know how challenging it can be to drive with your child in the car. While you may need to tend to their needs from time to time, you should prioritize your attention toward driving first and foremost.

Distracted Driving Details

Smartphone use while driving is such a prevalent issue that, as of April 2020, talking on a cell phone is banned in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Texting and driving is banned in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Believe it or not, the bans do actually work.

According to the III, “Teen drivers reported 55 percent fewer hand-held phone conversations in states where hand-held calling bans were in place for all drivers, regardless of age, compared to states that had no bans on hand-held calls.”

In addition, “Statistics based on police-reported crash data almost certainly underestimate the role of distraction in fatal crashes. Police crash reports aren't a reliable way to count cellphone-related collisions because drivers often don't volunteer that they were on the phone and there is usually a lack of other evidence to determine drivers' phone use.”

We’re Here to Help

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the negligent actions of a distracted driver, you may be able to recover compensation. Our team is highly skilled in car accident cases and have helped hundreds of others recover the compensation they deserved. Let us see if we can help you, too. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have right away.

Call Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C. today at (816) 484-3776 or complete an online form for a free consultation regarding your case.