Roughly 25% of all car accidents result from distracted driving. You’re almost as likely to get into an accident involving a distracted driver as you are to be struck by a drunk driver. When most people think about distracted driving, they imagine cellphone use. However, distracted driving is far more than a cellphone.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are three distinct categories of distracted driving. A driving distraction encompasses anything that makes you take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, or your focus away from driving. Each of these distractions is dangerous on its own, but when combined into a single distraction, they’re potentially deadly.
Manual distractions are anything that causes you to take your hands off the wheel. This could be reaching for a drink, adjusting the AC, reaching into your pocket, or even putting a hand on the shifter.
Manual distractions are typically the least dangerous of the three, as most drivers keep at least one hand on the wheel at all times. However, manual distractions are a symptom of another kind of distracted driving.
You don’t normally reach for a drink with your eyes fixed on the road. Instead, you devote brainpower to reaching for the drink, and you might briefly look down to find it. That’s the danger of distracted driving, not a single action, but multiple elements combined.
Visual distractions refer to any time you take your eyes off the road. A few common examples include looking at your passengers, taking in scenic views, and looking at an incoming phone notification.
While the above examples seem harmless, they cause you to lose awareness of your surroundings, however briefly. If you were following too close and suddenly look away, you might not have enough time to notice the car ahead of you slammed its brakes.
Taking your eyes off the road is always a risk, especially at high speeds. If you need to look away from the road or reach around for something, consider finding a place to pull over.
Mental distractions are, by far, the most dangerous kind of driving distraction. They are the root cause of all other distractions. Mental distractions are the fear that makes you look through your bag, thinking you forgot something. They are the worry that makes you want to check your social media.
Most of all, mental distractions are the result of boredom. Mental distractions occur when you aren’t fully engaged with driving. You start to daydream and lose track of reality as your ideas become more and more complex.
Mental distractions cause you to enter a sort of autopilot. You control the car by instinct until you’re suddenly snapped out of it by something unexpected, like a car pulling out in front of you.
The Most Dangerous Distractions
When we talk about distracted driving, we tend to gravitate toward cellphones. After all, cellphones encompass all three distractions at once. You reach for your phone, you look at the screen, and you use mental power to navigate the menus and form words. As you do so, you enter that trance-like autopilot, controlling the vehicle as long as nothing unexpected happens.
Although cellphone use is an easy target, daydreaming is the worst culprit of all. Studies suggest more than 60% of all distracted driving accidents involve someone who is “lost in thought.” By comparison, cellphone use makes up a minuscule 12% of accidents.
Driving is inherently dangerous. Every driver has a duty to eliminate distractions before they get behind the wheel. Put away food, put your phone on do not disturb, and take a moment to identify any distractions before you get on the road.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a distracted driving accident, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Clarksville auto accident attorney from Pete Olson Law, please send us an email or call (931) 286-7773.