What Constitutes Distracted Driving?

What Constitutes Distracted Driving?

Acts of negligence exist in countless situations, including when people are driving and doing things they shouldn’t. One of the most dangerous forms of neglect occurs when a driver is operating his or her vehicle while distracted.

Distracted driving results in countless crashes each year, and it’s essential for anybody who suffers injuries to understand their legal options. Knowing what actions constitute distracted driving can help injured parties hold negligent drivers liable for the damages they have sustained.

There are three common types of distractions when driving. Our car accident lawyers explain what these are and what actions fall under these categories.

Visual Distractions While Driving

When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road to look at something else, that driver is engaging in a visual distraction. Visual distractions include the following:

  • Looking at passengers
  • Looking down at a phone
  • Looking at the radio
  • Looking in the back seat for an item

Looking away from the road significantly diminishes the decision-making abilities and reaction time of a driver. A sudden stop in traffic, while one driver is looking away from the road, can cause a significant collision and subsequent injuries.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a driver can travel the length of a football field in just five seconds when traveling 55 miles per hour. Any visual distraction can have disastrous results for multiple drivers on the road.

Manual Distractions While Driving

Drivers must maintain physical control of their vehicles. The ability to do so decreases when the driver takes one hand off the steering wheel. Any manual distraction that requires the driver to take at least one hand off the steering wheel can lead to a severe collision.

Some of the most common types of manual distractions include:

  • Taking a hand off the steering wheel to check a text or make a phone call
  • Reaching for the radio dial to turn up or down the volume or change the station
  • Grabbing and eating or drinking food or a beverage
  • Holding a passenger’s hand or otherwise reaching to a passenger

Even when drivers are not reaching for an item or playing with their phone, trying to drive with one hand is dangerous. Unfortunately, countless people try to drive with one hand every day. In an event where the driver loses control of his or her vehicle, it’s harder to regain control with just one hand, making this a dangerous action.

Cognitive Distractions While Driving

Cell phones are visual and manual distractions, but they are cognitive distractions too. Even using a hands-free device does not eliminate the distraction. The National Safety Council published a white paper explaining why hands-free devices are still dangerous. The reason is because multitasking is a myth. What we think of as multi-tasking is really our brains switching our attentions to different things. It is impossible to focus on a telephone conversation and the road at the same time. As the brain gets tired, switching back and forth takes longer. This leads to a situation where the driver is focusing on the telephone conversation instead of the road.

Other cognitive distractions can include thinking of stresses outside of driving, daydreaming, or any situation in which the driver focuses on actions other than driving. Drivers have a much harder time reacting to traffic, stopping at traffic signs, and controlling their speed during these situations.

When Distracted Driving Causes Injuries

When someone drives distracted, countless other drivers are at significant risk of harm. The CDC also shows us that there are over 1,000 people injured in crashes each day involving a distracted driver. These drivers are negligent and are liable for any injuries they cause. In 2015, there were 391,000 injuries and 3,477 deaths associated with distracted driving.

Our Agoura Hills car accident lawyers at Effres & Associates are diligent in holding distracted drivers accountable for their actions. We believe that the injured deserve justice. We go above and beyond to protect the rights of our clients and pursue compensation on their behalves.

Call our firm today at (818) 222-9720 and discuss your potential legal options in a free consultation with our committed and determined advocates.

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