It seems everyone is talking about distracted driving these days. Politicians are passing laws outlawing cellphone use while driving. We are bombarded with commercials telling us to pull over or turn off our phones. From the sheer number of commercials and legislation, you’d think distracted driving is as bad as drunk driving.
To get a better idea about this issue, let’s examine some risks and dangers to find out whether distracted driving is as bad as authorities say.
Types of Distracted Driving
Before getting into the numbers, we must define distracted driving. While it’s tempting to think of it purely as cellphone use, most organizations identify three kinds of distracted driving. They are manual, visual, and cognitive distractions.
Manual Distractions: Manual distractions are anything that causes you to take your hands off the wheel. It might mean reaching for a drink or desperately searching for a tissue. Whatever the case, taking your hands off the wheel is a dangerous distraction as it leaves you unable to respond to unexpected obstacles and leaves you susceptible to other distractions.
Visual Distractions: Visual distractions are anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road. Common examples include billboards, cellphones, and staring at accidents (rubbernecking). This distraction is arguably more dangerous than manual distractions. If you can’t see a fast-approaching obstacle, you won’t be able to brake in time and soften the blow.
Cognitive Distractions: Cognitive distractions are the most dangerous kind of driving distraction. They are anything that makes your mind wander or causes you to “space out” while behind the wheel. When you don’t stay focused on the road, you’re liable to make traffic mistakes when turning or merging. You’re also far more likely to drift into other lanes or fail to see an oncoming obstacle.
Using a cellphone embodies all three kinds of driving distractions. That’s why lawmakers and activists place so much emphasis on them. No matter how strong your willpower, hearing the ding of a notification creates a cognitive distraction as you try to imagine who is texting you. The safest thing you can do is put your phone on do not disturb and drop it in the center console.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
How bad is distracted driving? At least as dangerous as drunk driving. Distracted driving causes about 25% of fatal car accidents in the US. On a national level, that’s the same as drunk driving. Together, drunk driving and distracted driving make up a terrifying 50% of all fatal American car accidents.
Worst of all is that every driver is susceptible to some kind of distraction. Our minds wander, we get thirsty, or we glance at a funny billboard. Whatever the case, these are all distractions that put us in danger. Drunk driving is avoidable, but everyone gets distracted from time to time.
Drivers of new cars are especially prone to distracted driving. Built-in tablets with voice-controlled apps have replaced the simple consoles of the past. Even if you don’t use your phone, it’s hard to ignore the temptation of a beckoning screen.
If everyone took a moment to identify and eliminate driving distractions, we could save thousands of lives per year. Next time you get behind the wheel of a car, take a moment to turn off your phone, keep the radio off, and focus solely on the road ahead. You might be surprised how much of a difference it makes.
If you suffered serious injuries in an accident caused by distracted driving, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced attorney from Wood Craig Miller to evaluate your claim, please give us a call at or send us an email.