Distracted driving is a serious issue in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,477 deaths and more than 390,000 injuries due to distracted driving in 2015 alone. Although this is an issue affecting every state in the country, Florida drivers should take note of a recent EverDrive study that ranked Florida 49th out of all 50 states for distracted driving. The only state with a worse record is Louisiana. It’s essential for every driver on the road to understand the dangers of distracted driving and err on the side of caution for their own sake and the sake of those nearby on the road.
Understanding Distracted Driving
In simple terms, distracted driving applies to any situation in which a driver is not paying full attention to the road and the operation of his or her vehicle. The NHTSA defines three general types of distraction behind the wheel:
- Cognitive distraction. This is anything that takes your mind off the road. After a stressful day at work, it’s important to focus on the road and not your frustrations during your commute home. If you’re too upset to drive for any reason, it’s usually safer to wait until you’ve had time to calm down before getting behind the wheel. On long trips, or while driving through areas with little to see, it can be easy to “zone out” and daydream behind the wheel. No matter what kind of day you’ve had or experience you have driving, every driver should commit their full attention to driving and the road ahead.
- Visual distraction. This applies to anything that causes you to shift your gaze away from the road ahead and toward something else. “Rubbernecking” is a common form of visual distraction, which describes drivers slowing down to get a better look at roadside hazards, police movement, emergency crew activity, road construction or other events near the roadway.
Always keep your eyes fixed on the road, and check that your vehicle’s rear-view mirrors are in their correct positions before your departure. This helps prevent the need to strain your neck to see into your blind spots or divert your eyes away from what’s in front of you for too long.
- Manual distraction. Anything that requires you to move your hands off your steering wheel or gearshift while driving is a manual distraction. Drivers should keep both hands on the wheel at all times.
Drivers of cars with manual transmissions must shift gears with their right hands, but it’s important to avoid using your hands for other things that could be distracting, such as rifling through a purse or bag for something, adjusting the stereo or climate control, or other things of this nature. If you need to adjust your radio station or quickly use your hands for something while driving, wait until you reach a stop sign or red light.
Any of these types of distraction could potentially cause a serious or even fatal accident. Distracted driving has risen to prominence in public discussions since the arrival of cell phones, which continue to be the top distraction behind the wheel. Texting while driving is essentially all three types of distraction rolled into one activity: the conversation diverts the driver’s attention, he or she then looks at the screen to read a message and type a response, and uses a hand to type. Texting while driving is incredibly dangerous.
If you suffer an injury or damages due to a distracted driver, you may be able to sue the negligent driver in a personal injury lawsuit. Connect with a reliable and experienced attorney to represent your case and help navigate you toward a satisfactory result.