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Distracted driving is a habit of engaging in any activity, which could potentially distract a driver from the crucial task of operating the vehicle. In theory, it can be any activity that takes a driver’s eyes away from the road or the driver’s mental awareness away from driving. Distractions while driving can be categorized into three distinct areas: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual distraction entails taking the driver’s hands off the wheel while visual distraction involves the driver’s eyes being taken off the road. Cognitive distraction happens when a driver’s focus is not directed towards the act of driving and the mind “takes a stroll.”
According to studies most of the head on collisions and near misses that are experienced on our roads involve inattention as a major contributing factor. Visual inattention by drivers on the road is the most significant causative factor contributing to crash and near crash vehicle involvement on our roads. Cognitive driving distraction connected to listening, and talking on a handheld or hands-free device is associated with most of the crashes and near-miss accidents
Research shows that the human brain functions in a way that in the event of distractions while driving, there is increased brain activity. Straight driving and making turns in the presence of traffic becomes extremely hard to in case of distractions are on the road. Because of this, it is vital for drivers to center their attention on only the task at hand, driving. Even though driving becomes the primary cognitive function, when drivers are distracted brain areas that need to be activated for safe operation of the vehicle are not, which is a perfect recipe for a distracted driving accident.
Distracted driving is a prime cause of accidents, death, and injuries, apart from citations for traffic violations the driver commits. Distracted driving accidents are an indication of negligence or recklessness on the part of the driver. If evidence of distraction is presented in an injury lawsuit resulting from a vehicle accident, the driver will most likely have a case. As a Huntington personal injury lawyer, it is important to unravel whether or not an accident was caused by other factors or is a distracted driving accident.
There are many activities, which fall under the label of “distracted driving.” Many new laws have been legislated which primarily focus on gadget distractions such as texting while driving or making calls using a cell phone in your car. However, common causes of distracted driving continue, such as shaving while driving, putting on makeup while driving, or playing with and tending to a pet and many other causes.
Under distracted driving traffic laws, distracted driving is a term, which covers a broad spectrum of driving behaviors. All states have legislated and enacted laws against distracted driving to prevent distracted driving accidents. Each state has taken a variety of approaches to curbing distracted driving accidents, ranging from general bans to specific bans on driving distractions.
General distracted driving laws help in punishing all distracted driving activities. They do not specify the particular activities, which are prohibited, but instead general parameters have been set to sanction all forms of distracted driving. As a Huntington personal injury lawyer, general distracted driving is engaging in any activity which is not necessary while operating the vehicle or activity which would impair your ability to drive safely. With these general laws, it is easier to deal with any injury suit arising from a distracted driving accident.
Driving with a dog or any pet can be very unsafe. An unharnessed or non-caged pet can be a distraction. Animals are known to be unpredictable; they may pull stunts, which you may not expect in the vehicle while you are driving. An animal can even jump on the steering wheel or event the vehicle windscreen causing a dangerous distraction for the driver.
Another distraction is focusing on an outside person, object, or event, a situation known as rubbernecking. It is the most reported cause of distracted driving accidents. It is essential for the driver to stay focused while driving and in case his attention is drawn towards any outside person or event the driver should pull the vehicle over and take the time to watch before getting back on driving.
In a world of busy schedules and ever-extending commutes, eating while driving any vehicle has become the norm. Eating while driving is a very costly venture for many drivers. Apart from the driver’s attention being distracted towards the meal, unwieldy burgers, soups, and hot drinks can make steering a car a hard task. Meals and fluids also present the risk of pouring on the driver and the driver’s operation area, causing a very dangerous distraction. Although the dangers of eating while driving are evident and well known, drivers continually ignore them leading to many distracted driving accidents.
Another activity that causes distraction and can attract legal consequences to the driver in case of an accident is operating vehicle machines like the radio in the car.
While these common distractions look so simple, they may lead to catastrophic distracted driving accidents and injuries. By law, an activity that causes the driver to be distracted from operating the vehicle and causing an accident will attract legal suits for any damages caused. Therefore as a driver, you ought to be careful with any distraction that will come your way, if you want to protect yourself from lawsuits coming your way.
There are also laws, which are enacted on some specific distraction. These laws attract a heavier punishment for the driver, such laws center on the use of telephones and other electronic gadgets. They forbid texting, and calling and general use of electronics in the car while driving.
The laws also explicitly prohibit drivers from activities such as shaving, putting on make-up, reading, interacting with pets, writing and other recurrent in-vehicle driving distractions.
In regards to cell phones and driving, most state laws forbid all drivers from speaking on a mobile phone or texting without means of a hands-free mechanism while driving. Other states completely prohibit all cell phone activity even with the use of a hands-free device by drivers, typically, younger than 18 drivers and school bus drivers.
Driving while texting is also categorized as distracted driving and is forbid by law. In particular, these laws outlaw use of electronic devices, which would include sending and receiving text messages on devices such as PDAs, cell phones, and other devices. All gadget oriented laws characteristically ban not only texting while driving, but also use of other devices, such as emailing while driving, web browsing, or use of smartphone apps, and other device use activities.
The law allows law enforcement to pull the driver over and issue a traffic citation for distracted driving even if the officer observes no other violation. Distracted driving laws are referred to as “primary enforcement” laws; police can pull you over for such offenses.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law