Look Out for Driving Distractions

We have all heard about the epidemic of auto accidents caused by driving while texting. But texting technology has only been around for a few years. What did people do, before everyone became glued to their cell phones, to keep their eyes off the road?

The myriad things we do while driving — other than, well, driving — are today grouped under the general category of Distracted Driving. The collective risk of so many people moving around fast and unfocused is serious enough to have its own government-sponsored website, which of course places texting at the top of its list of driving hazards.  However, many of the activities we take for granted as part of the driving experience carry risks of their own:

  • Rubbernecking — A study by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles found that the tendency to turn and stare as we drive past an accident is itself responsible for causing accidents.
  • Eating and drinking — Stuff spills. Food goes down the wrong way. Wrappers need to be unwrapped. All of these things take attention away from the matter at hand, which is not so bad when you are sitting on your couch, but very bad when you are sitting behind the wheel.
  • Grooming — Yes, that light-up mirror on the back of your visor has a dark side as well.
  • Electronics — The cell phone does not have a monopoly on gadget hazards. Operating a GPS, stereo system, or video player can be equally distracting.
  • Sightseeing and socializing —The typical pleasantries of an afternoon drive, both inside and outside of your car, still provide good, old-fashioned distraction.

If you are injured in an auto accident, try to ascertain what the other driver was doing immediately before the impact. It could help establish who was at fault

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