Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on the road today. Every day, thousands of people are injured in distracted driving accidents. It only takes a few seconds of taking your eyes off the road for an unfortunate accident to happen. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,142 people were killed and about 300,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2020. Additionally, 1 in 5 people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver were not in vehicles – they were walking, riding their bikes or otherwise not in a vehicle. These are staggering statistics considering distracted driving accidents are largely preventable.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from driving. This includes texting, assisting children in the vehicle, talking on the phone, eating, or grooming. When you are multi-tasking while behind the wheel, your attention cannot be 100% on the road. Even the most experienced drivers have reduced driving capabilities while driving distracted. When your attention is not on the road ahead, your reaction time and ability to avoid hazards in the roadway are drastically reduced.
Types of distracted driving
There are four main types of distracted driving: visual, manual, cognitive, and auditory.
- Visual – Visual distractions include any activity that takes your eyes off the road, such as reading a text or grabbing something from the backseat.
- Manual – Manual distractions include not having your hands on the wheel because you are eating, reaching for an object, or making adjustments to your temperature or navigation controls.
- Cognitive –Cognitive distractions are anything that takes your mind off the act of driving. It is easy to let your mind wander, especially on a route that you take on a regular basis. Many people can relate to arriving at their destination and realizing they were on autopilot while driving!
- Auditory – Auditory distractions include listening to something not related to driving. It is important that your primary focus be on listening to the sounds around you – emergency vehicle sirens, screeching wheels, etc, so that you are alerted to any hazards surrounding you on the road.
There are numerous activities that take a driver’s attention away from the road ahead but texting while driving is the most alarming. Did you know that taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds to read a text at 55 MPH is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed? In 2019, there were 387 fatal crashes reported as having cell phone use as a distraction (13% of all distraction-affected fatal crashes).
Distracted driver activities
- Talking or texting on your phone
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to people in your vehicle
- Changing the audio or temperature controls or interacting with your navigation system
- Applying makeup
- Listening to your music too loud
- Adjusting mirrors
- Tending to children while driving
Ways to reduce distractions while driving
While distractions are not completely avoidable, there are ways to ensure that you, your passengers, and others on the road with arrive at the destination safely:
- Pull over if you need to respond to a text or answer the phone.
- Do not read texts while driving.
- Use handsfree options if you need to talk on your phone while driving. It is illegal now in the Commonwealth of Virginia to hold your phone while driving.
- Have a dedicated person in the car to answer any important texts or calls while you are driving.
- Eat before you leave your house or make a quick stop to eat and then resume your trip.
- Adjust music, mirrors, temperature controls, and navigation apps BEFORE you start driving.
- Keep your music volume at an appropriate level so you can hear what is going on around you outside of your vehicle.
- Pack activities and snacks so that your kids can easily and independently access them themselves.
Holding a mobile device is now Illegal in Virginia
Do you know it is illegal to hold a cell phone while driving a motor vehicle in Virginia? The law was effective January 1, 2021 and prohibits drivers from holding cell phone or any wireless communication device while driving except for in an emergency or if the vehicle is parked or stopped. In addition to saving yourself from a traffic ticket, putting your phone away while driving also saves lives.
Distracted Driving – It’s just not worth it!
The team at Huffman & Huffman wants to help raise awareness about the dangers and the consequences caused by distracted driving. It is unfortunately something we see daily – accidents that could have been easily prevented and lives that are greatly impacted all because a text could not wait to be answered.
From our family to yours – don’t drive distracted, it’s just NOT worth it.
Injured by a distracted driver?
If you were injured by a distracted driver, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at Huffman & Huffman BEFORE you talk to the at-fault party’s insurance company. Obtaining legal advice about a potential claim is always free. Let us handle the insurance companies to get you full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain, suffering, and inconvenience while you focus on your recovery.
Contact Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC at (757) 599-6050 to schedule your free case evaluation. We have offices in Newport News and Virginia Beach, and we are happy to come to meet you at your home, workplace, or wherever is most convenient for you. Huffman & Huffman serve clients all over Hampton Roads and Virginia.