Distracted Driving 101: It isn't just texting and driving
Distracted driving is one of those alliterative phrases coined in hopes of bringing attention to a big problem. Generally defined as any non-driving activity that a motorist engages in while operating a vehicle, distracted driving increases the risk of a wreck. To maximize safety, drivers should be giving their full cognitive, manual, and visual attention to the task. Having our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road promotes the safest environment when our brains are also completely engaged.
Why do so many people insist on trying to do other activities while driving? Are they just so used to NOT wrecking their car or NOT hurting someone else while driving that they just sort of forget that it’s a possibility? Are they so enamored with electronic entertainment and communication devices that they don’t care about the risk? Cell phone use rose dramatically in the 1990s and factored into a corresponding increase in vehicle accidents. States responded by enacting laws aimed at limiting mobile phones while driving, though the prohibitions vary widely. Many states have separate sanctions for texting because it is one of the most dangerous distractions. Studies have found that sending or reading a text takes a motorist’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, this behavior is equivalent to driving the length of a football field, blindfolded. Louisiana bans texting while driving and recently instituted harsher penalties for violators.
As smartphones have become more prolific, talking and texting are no longer the only activities that can cause distractions. Drivers are now using their phones to check social media, take pictures, post updates, answer emails, watch videos, play games, and more. In an alarming survey by the National Safety Council (NSC) of 2,400 drivers across various age groups, 74 percent said they would use Facebook while driving, 37 percent said they would use Twitter, 35 percent said they would use YouTube, and 33 percent would use Instagram. Many simply believe that using apps or social media while behind the wheel is far less dangerous than text messaging or being intoxicated.
The NSC estimates that about one-fourth of all crashes can be attributed to distracted driving connected with use of a phone. Examples are everywhere. A driver in Maine hit a tree and injured several of his passengers while taking a selfie. North Carolina authorities were called to the scene of a fatal car accident just one minute after the driver had posted a Facebook update. A Georgia driver crashed her car into another, allegedly while distracted by Snapchat’s speed filter, which was also the reason given for her speeding at over 100 mph. And the latest craze of Pokémon Go has resulted in so many accidents that the makers have designed two updates aimed at making it harder to play while operating a vehicle.
Technology is tempting, but its widespread availability doesn’t mean we have to use it when we should be doing something else – especially something as important as driving a car. Help yourself by saving that game, post, email, text, or phone call until after you arrive at your destination. Alter your personal behavior and be a role model for staying focused while driving. At a minimum, this will put you in a better position for reacting if another driver fails to heed such common sense advice.
It’s important to secure skilled legal representation as soon as possible after an accident with a distracted driver. The Louisiana car wreck attorney Chris J. Roy, founder of the Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm, understands that life after an accident can be overwhelming. He seeks to ease the financial, mental, and physical burden that the litigation process can add by consistently communicating with you, as well as handling the complicated details so you can focus on your recovery. Having practiced law for nearly 30 years, he takes pride in helping accident victims in Alexandria, Pineville, Rapides Parish, Grant Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Allen Parish, Vernon Parish, and throughout Central Louisiana. For help with your legal claim, contact the firm for a free initial consultation by calling 1-318-487-9537.