Distracted driving is a massive problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted drivers kill around 3,000 people in the U.S. every year and injure around another 400,000.
While most people have heard of distracted driving and know it is a problem, they may not understand its mechanics.
What are the three elements of distracted driving?
There are three ways in which a distraction can reduce your ability to drive safely:
- Visual distractions: You have to be focused on the road to drive safely. Looking down at the map, glancing at your phone or turning around to tell off your child means you are not using your eyes to drive. You might not see the stop signal turn red or the older woman struggling to carry her shopping across the road in front of you.
- Manual distraction: Driving instructors teach you to keep two hands on the wheel, one at either side. It gives you maximum control. While you might get away with steering one-handed on a straight, empty road, it reduces your ability to take evasive action in an emergency. When you hold a coffee mug or phone in one hand, you reduce your ability to control your vehicle.
- Mental distraction: Driving home after work, you might be replaying a business meeting in your head. Heading to the store, you might be making a mental list of ingredients for tonight’s recipe. Thinking about anything other than the traffic around you and the road ahead reduces your reaction speed.
Anyone driving a vehicle needs to give it their full attention. There is no excuse for distracted driving when the dangers are so evident. Just the same, there are many drivers out there who simply aren’t going to listen to all the warnings, so you may do everything right and still end up the victim of a distracted driver. If that happens, talk to an experienced attorney about your options.