Distracted Driving Involves Much More than Cell Phones

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Driving is an immense responsibility that each of us accepts every time we get behind the wheel. When you’re motoring down the road, your attention should be focused solely on driving safely. Put simply, distracted driving is dangerous driving. While the advent of smartphones and our devotion to them is of particular concern when it comes to driving distractions, there are many kinds of distractions that can lead to dangerous car crashes. When you take to the road, always make driving safely your first priority.

Driving while Distracted

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as engaging in any activity that diverts one’s attention while driving. Further, NHTSA provides an expansive list of potential driving distractions:

  • Interacting with your smartphone
  • Eating and/or drinking
  • Conversing with your passengers
  • Fiddling with any of your in-car systems, including your navigation system and/or your stereo or other entertainment systems

In fact, anything that takes your eyes or your thoughts off your primary task of driving safely is a distraction that can be dangerous.

Distracted Driving: The Statistics

NHTSA forwards several alarming statistics related to distracted driving:

  • In 2016, more than 3,400 people were killed in vehicular crashes caused by distracted drivers. Teenage drivers are the most likely to be distracted when a fatal crash occurs.
  • In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in vehicular crashes caused by distracted drivers.
  • When driving during daylight hours, about 481,000 drivers use their smartphones daily.

Don’t Text and Drive

Ultimately, NHTSA crowns texting as the most dangerous driving distraction. It describes the distraction of texting (or otherwise engaging with one’s cell phone) as consuming one’s attention for approximately five seconds at a time. This means that – when you are texting and traveling at 55 miles per hour – your eyes leave the road for about the length of a football field. This is the equivalent of driving blind for the entire length of a football field, and that is an extremely dangerous scenario.

Exploring Driving Distractions

The distractions posed by smartphones are obvious, and most drivers understand the inherent dangers. There are other dangerous distractions, however, that you may not consider carefully enough:

  • Taking your hand or hands off the wheel

Some drivers think nothing of driving with only one hand on the wheel, but when you’re using one hand for anything other than driving safely, you are driving under the influence of distraction. Keeping both of your hands squarely on the wheel when you drive provides you with greater control of your vehicle and is the safest driving choice.

  • Eating while driving

Our lives seem to get busier and busier, and sometimes the drive-thru is simply the best option. When you proceed to eat your burger and fries while you continue to drive, however, you are dangerously distracted. A much safer choice is to eat your meal before getting back on the road. If you’re on a road trip, making brief regular stops can help you stay alert and better focused anyway, so enjoy your quick bite and soda before you return to the road.

  • Driving with your pooch

You naturally love your dog, and taking him or her along for the ride may seem like a great idea, but an unrestrained pet can quickly morph into a dangerous distraction – or even an encumbrance to driving safely. If your pet is your copilot, make sure that he or she remains safely restrained throughout the trip.

  • Not preparing for your trip ahead of time

Whether you’re heading out in your car for a short trip or on an epic journey, there are preparations that you should make ahead of time – and not as you drive. Before you shift into drive, familiarize yourself with the directions you’ll be following and plan your travel route. You should also set your temperature controls to settings that are comfortable for you and set up any music, podcast, or radio station that you’ll be listening to (if you choose to have background noise). Making this small investment of time before every trip – long or short – can save you from dangerous distractions behind the wheel.

If a Distracted Driver Has Left You Injured, Consult with an Experienced Fargo Personal Injury Attorney Today

Car crashes are dangerous and frightening, and if a distracted driver has left you injured, you may not know where to turn for help. The dedicated legal team at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo has the experience, skill, and compassion to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, we’re here to help. For more information, please email one of our skilled personal injury attorneys – Tim O’Keeffe, Tatum O’Brien or Sara Monson – or call us at 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 (toll-free) today.

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