Distracted driving is an ever-increasing problem. In 2010 more than 3,000 people died in car accidents caused by distracted driving. One reason is all the technical gadgets we often have in the car. It used to be that changing the volume or station on the radio was the activity that most commonly entailed a glance away from the road. Nowadays, we have cell phones, text messaging, GPS systems, SmartPhones, and tablets that do all kinds of tricks. Some people even have TVs in their cars.
Four Types of Distracted Driving
Driving distractions can be classified as one of four types: visual, manual, auditory, or cognitive.
Being visually distracted means you have taken your eyes off the road and glanced elsewhere. Rubbernecking, texting, reading billboards, and looking to see what the kids are doing in the back seat are all examples of visual distractions.
These kinds of distractions take the driver’s attention from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If the car is traveling at 55 MPH, you’ll cover the length of an entire football field in that time! The distraction delays reaction time, and a car accident can easily happen when the driver is focused on something other than the road while traveling that distance.
Noises and sounds inside the car can distract you. For example, if your engine is making a weird noise and you’re focusing on that, your full attention is not on driving. If your baby is crying or the kids are fighting in the back seat, the noise can divert your attention.
Manual distraction involves removing your hands from the wheel, for example to change the radio station, check the GPS, or reach for a sandwich or drink, even though your eyes are on the road, you have poor control over the car, and again, the consequence is delayed reaction time.
A cognitive distraction is something that causes you to lose focus or takes your mind off driving. Talking on a cell phone—even a hands-free one—is a cognitive distraction. A study at MIT showed equally poor performance whether drivers used hand-held or hands-free phones.
Dialing a cell phone and texting combine visual and cognitive distractions and are especially lethal activities. Conversing with passengers, focusing on an engaging news report, or reprimanding children are a few other types of cognitive distraction.
Drivers Must Eliminate Driving Distractions to Avoid Injuring Others
Every driver is responsible for reducing driving distractions and staying focused on the road. These are some things drivers often do to become distracted and cause accidents and injuries to others, for which they should be held accountable:
- Using phone
- Eating or drinking
- Smoking; reaching for a cigarette or lighter
- Changing the radio station
- Programming the GPS
- Quieting the baby or disciplining the kids
- Rubbernecking when driving past an accident
- Reading billboard ads
- Blasting the radio
- Looking for something in the car or in a purse
- Turning to speak to other passengers
- Allowing unrestrained pets in the car
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident in Florida caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to get a monetary recovery to compensate you for your losses.