In 2020, over 3,000 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted driving. If you are wondering what exactly distracted driving is, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines it as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigating system – anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
As drivers spend a lot of time in their vehicles, it can become almost impossible not to multitask. They may not even realize that the behaviors they’re engaging in are a type of distracted driving. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recognizes three different types of distractions:
- Manual distractions. Manual distractions are the type of distractions that lead you to taking your hands off the steering wheel. Activities such as eating, smoking, looking at your phone, changing the radio station, messing with the GPS system, and taking a sip of your drink are considered manual distractions.
- Cognitive distractions. Cognitive distractions are the type of distractions that take your attention, concentration, and focus off the road and driving. Talking to your passengers, road rage, stressing about a certain situation, driving while drowsy or sleepy, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are typically activities that lead to cognitive distractions.
- Visual distractions. Visual distractions are when your eyes leave the road. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as reaching for something in the vehicle, checking your navigation system, changing the radio station, changing the temperature settings in the car, rearranging the mirror, or handing someone something while driving.
Construction, other vehicles, unpredictable weather conditions, changing traffic, animals, and pedestrians are a few of the things that you must watch out for as they can unexpectedly appear at any time.
Why is distracted driving so dangerous?
Distracted driving is very dangerous because drivers who are occupied with other things instead of the task at hand are less likely to respond and react in time. When you are behind the wheel, you never know what can occur. Distracted drivers may miss pedestrians or cyclists in the road, or start to drift into other lanes, which can lead to a head-on or sideswipe collision. A distracted driver may not recognize that the car in front has slowed down or stopped, which can increase the risk of rear-end crashes and multi-car pileups.
Another reason distracted driving is dangerous is because it can lead to speeding, and speeding is a leading cause of fatal accidents. A driver who is distracted by a phone or a radio, or who is daydreaming while driving may not realize just how fast he or she is going. A vehicle traveling at higher speeds will create a greater force, which means the impact of the crash itself is likely to be more severe.
How to avoid distractions while driving in and near Chattanooga
You can’t control the way other people drive; you can only do the right thing, and model good behavior for your children. Driving requires 100 percent of your attention. Therefore, the best way to avoid distractions is to remain focused, keep your eyes forward on the road, and do not take your hands off the steering wheel.
There are certain instances where you should pull over instead of trying to multitask, such as eating, smoking, reading directions, and messing with the GPS system. Before you put the car in drive, make sure that your favorite radio station is set, your mirrors are adjusted, and your seat and steering wheel are in the correct positions.
Another great tool to utilize when you are driving and feel tempted to look at your phone for any reason is the “Do Not Disturb” setting. Most phones come with this feature, which automatically turns off their phone’s ringer and sends an automatic text message to senders letting them know that you are driving at the moment. This will help keep you from being distracted by any incoming phone calls, emails, or text messages. If your phone does not have this feature or you are unsure of how to use it, you can instead keep your phone tucked away where it is out of reach when you are in the car and driving. This may be able to keep you and other drivers around you safe.
The laws surrounding cell phones while driving
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there is currently no nation-wide ban on texting or talking on the phone while driving, but there are bans put in place by certain states.
In Tennessee, it is illegal to do any of the following while driving under Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-8-199:
- Use any part of the body to hold a mobile device
- Send, read, or write a text-based communication
- Watch a video on a mobile device
- Reach for a mobile device that causes you to no longer be in a seated position
- Broadcast or record a video on a mobile device
If you have recently been in a car accident involving a distracted driver, our Chattanooga car accident attorneys are available to assist you. We have the skills and experience to handle these types of cases, and we will ensure that you get the proper compensation for your injuries. Call Wagner & Wagner or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation. Serving Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, North Georgia, and the surrounding areas.
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