Distracted driving injures more than 1,000 people in the U.S. daily, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It caused 3,166 fatalities in traffic accidents during 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s easy to see why: the drivers who take their eyes off the road and are going 55 mph travel the length of a football field in just 5 seconds.
It doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s enough to cause traumatic and life-threatening wrecks.
Many people think that cell phone use, including texting, is synonymous with distracted driving. But in fact, distracted driving stems from much more than the cell phone. Drivers need to keep their minds on driving, vehicles, roads, and what they’re doing, and any diversion of attention is distracted driving.
Distracted driving is divided into three categories: manual, cognitive and visual. Unwrapping a sandwich or fast food meal as you drive, for example, is a manual distraction, because your hands are occupied.
Rehearing what to say to your boss about a raise is a cognitive distraction because your mind is occupied by thoughts other than driving and road conditions. Staring at an accident or admiring a new car is visually distracted driving.
The most dangerous types of distracted driving combine all three. That’s one of the reasons sending texts is so dangerous: you are typing out the text, thinking about it, and reading it.
Here are the most common causes of distracted driving.
Using a smartphone
Yes, it’s not responsible for all of the distracted driving. But still, smartphone use is the most common form of distracted driving, even though almost every state (including West Virginia) has banned it. Use of a hand-held phone or any other electronic device while driving is a primary enforcement offense in our state, so if you are seen doing it, police can pull you over without needing to see any other evidence of poor driving.
If you are convicted of texting and driving in West Virginia, you can be fined as much as $100 for the first offense and fined as much as $200 for the second offense. For a third offense, the fine rises to a maximum of $300 and 3 points will be placed on your driver’s license.
Talking with Other People in the Vehicle
Talking may seem innocent, but in fact, it’s the second-most common source of distracted driving. Intense or humorous conversations can take a driver’s attention away from driving – plus, the risk of hand gestures or even turning toward the passenger being spoken to rises if you talk.
It seems like reading and driving obviously don’t mix, right? But reading some kind of (non-cell-phone) material is the third most common distracted driving event. Reading a map, your child’s school project, a passing billboard, or even picking up a magazine if you’re stuck in a traffic jam are all too common.
The fact is, reading takes your eyes and concentration from the road. Your eyes only need to be off the road 2 seconds to increase the risk of a collision 100%.
Drinking or Eating
Many people drink coffee on the way to work – and many picks up a breakfast sandwich or other food to go with that. That behavior is replicated all day, as people snack and eat lunch and dinner while driving.
Drinking and eating while driving is as risky as using a cell phone because, like using a phone, it distracts manually, cognitively, and visually.
Many people shave, put on makeup, or comb their hair in the car, often while using the rear-view or other mirrors. Like eating or drinking, grooming behavior occupies you manually, cognitively, and visually. It’s just as dangerous as a cell phone behind the wheel.
In addition, mirrors are safety devices, designed to check traffic and your blind spots. The more you are using the mirrors for other activities, the more you are not scanning the roads for potential hazards.
If You Need a West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been in a West Virginia car accident caused by distracted driving or any other factors, contact an experienced lawyer today. We can help you get justice.
Johnstone & Gabhart always offers to offer free initial consultations.