The National Safety Council has designated the month of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In a typical year, more than 3,000 people are killed in the U.S. and more than 430,000 are injured in vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving is literally a matter of life-or-death importance.
Don’t become a statistic! These are the top ways that drivers get dangerously distracted—and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Texting while driving
Texting is the worst thing you can do while you are driving. It’s a triple threat. If you text while driving, you are using your hands (which should be on the wheel), you are looking down at your phone’s screen (when you should be looking ahead at the road), and you are mentally engaged in writing the text (when your thoughts should be focused on the road and what other drivers are doing).
How do you avoid the danger of texting while driving? Just don’t do it! Ever! There is no safe way to text and drive. It’s a sure-fire way to get yourself into an accident over time.
2. Other uses of a cell phone while driving
Some people think that as long as they are using their phones hands-free, then they can safely operate their vehicle. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. The average person’s brain will remain distracted for 27 seconds after using voice commands to select music, dial a number, or write a text.
How to stay safe: Get used to putting your phone away while you are driving! Wait until you get to your destination or you have pulled over and stopped.
When drivers get caught up in looking at an event happening outside the car, they can forget to look at what is going on right in front of them.
To stay safe: Always pay attention to the road in front of you! Though you might want to take a look at the accident to the side of the road, you don’t want to become one as well, so keep focused.
4. Talking to other people in the car
Drivers can become dangerously distracted by other people in the car. Examples of such distractions include drivers getting so engaged in the conversation that focus on the road is lost and turning around to look at people beside them or in the back seat. These distractions (and all of those discussed in this article) can be compounded if road conditions are bad or if the driver is inexperienced.
Safety tip: Always remember that your top priority when you are driving is to drive safely. If talking to the people in the car is making you lose your focus on the road and interfering with your ability to be a safe driver, hold off on the conversation until later. Regardless of whether you are talking, never turn around to look at another person while you are driving.
Sometimes drivers can distract themselves without any help from electronic devices, other people, or outside events.
To be safe: If you find yourself daydreaming and not paying enough attention to the road, make a conscious effort to refocus your attention on what you see in front of you and in your mirrors. If you are sleepy, pull over someplace safe, get out of the car, and walk around. Get some coffee or, if possible, some rest.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, don’t just accept an insurance company’s settlement offer without finding out more about your rights. You should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, who will be on your side, before you make any statements to the other driver’s insurance company or rush into a settlement.
Here at Lehmbecker Law, we would be glad to talk to you and give you a free case evaluation. Please contact us for a no-obligation consultation.