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Distracted Driving – A Bigger Problem Than You Might Think

While most responsible drivers realize that texting while driving is inherently dangerous, many of those same people face multiple distractions themselves without realizing it. If you grab a quick sandwich and eat it on your way to your next meeting, or bring along your morning coffee, or light up a cigarette, you are performing a task secondary to driving. Now you might consider yourself a great multitasker, and that may be true. However, any distraction can affect your driving – especially when reaction time is vital.

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When you make a phone call (even with your hands-free device), change your radio station, adjust your GPS, or talk to your passengers, these are all distractions. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attributed more than 3,000 traffic fatalities to accidents caused by distracted driving. Additionally, around 20% of all accidents are caused by distracted drivers.

Other studies, where on-board cameras and data recording equipment have been available, show upwards of 25% of crashes and near-accidents occur when a driver is being distracted by a secondary task.

Understanding the Problem

Teen drivers are the worst offenders when it comes to distracted driving, however, they are not the only ones. Additionally, because teen drivers do not have the experience of driving under various circumstances, they are more prone to being involved in accidents to begin with.

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Conversely, anyone who has been driving for several years or more, can become so used to hopping into their vehicle and heading to their destination, that they tend to take driving for granted. Driving is an inherently complex task that demands a great deal of attention. It requires simultaneous visual contact with our surroundings, manual dexterity of both hands and feet, and cognitive function that helps us process everything which allows us to instinctively take the necessary action.

Interrupting any of those processes distracts us from driving. For instance, visual distractions occur when something makes us take our eyes off the road, like looking at a map or turning to see what our child is doing in the back seat. A manual distraction is anything that we use our hands for (other than steering).

Lastly, and probably the most subtle type of distraction, is cognitive distraction. This is anything that diverts any portion of your attention away from the activity of driving. Simple things you do all of the time, like stressing over being late or thinking about whether you are dressed appropriately for the restaurant you are headed to are cognitive distractions.

Why Texting is So Dangerous

The particularly dangerous practice of texting and driving simultaneously merges all three types of distractions. Glancing at the phone creates a visual distraction, scrolling and/or typing is a manual distraction, and considering the context of the text while formulating a reply becomes a cognitive distraction.

While texting and driving has become the clearest example of dangerous behavior behind the wheel, it is important to note that any distraction while driving can increase your chance of becoming involved in an accident. Our auto accidents lawyer in Newark sees many serious injuries related to accidents caused by distracted driving, and understands how dangerous it is.

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Just suppose you take your eyes off the road for just two seconds, for any reason, and you are traveling at 70 miles per hour, your vehicle will travel 102 feet during those two seconds. That is enough time to end up in another vehicle’s trunk if they stop or slow down unexpectedly.

We understand that every driver becomes distracted occasionally. However, the point we are making, is that any type of distraction, no matter how small, increases your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident – and multiple, simultaneous distractions greatly increase that risk.

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Despite consistent reminders, drivers continue to disregard warnings about texting and driving as well as other careless driving habits – and unfortunately, many of them cause accidents where others are seriously injured. If you, or someone you love, has been seriously injured in an auto or truck accident in New Jersey or New York, reach out to our team of knowledgeable vehicle accident lawyers at Kreizer Law to discuss your accident case.

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