Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes distracted driving. The general notion is taking one's eyes off the road and directing one's attention elsewhere. While this is certainly true, it isn't a complete definition. There are other forms of driver distraction that motorists unknowingly engage in yet are equally dangerous. According to the CDC, there are three types of distraction:
When you fail to keep your eyes on the road, you are visually distracted. For the most part, everyone understands this. What many people don't appreciate is even brief glances away from the road are sufficient to cause an accident in complex driving situations, especially when driving at high speeds.
If a traffic incident requiring an immediate response should happen the moment you look away, then by the time your attention is back on the road, it will be too late to take evasive action. There are two delays associated with visual distraction: the time when your eyes are averted, and the time required for your mind to reassess the traffic situation.
Taking your hands off the steering wheel delays your reaction time to a sudden road emergency. Having other objects in your hands increases the delay. If you hit road debris or a pothole that deflects your steering, you can't immediately correct for this if your hands aren't on the steering wheel. Even driving with one hand is dangerous when the situation demands rapid and precise steering.
Cognitive distraction is greatly underappreciated by the driving public. In fact, many fail to recognize it as a distraction at all. This is why many people believe they can split their minds between a cell phone conversation and their driving. They feel that keeping their eyes on the road is sufficient for safety. While your driving reflexes may keep your car on the road, they're inadequate for coping with sudden emergencies. They're incapable of recognizing circumstances and patterns that could cause an accident. Only an alert and focused mind can do that.
Driving while holding a cell phone conversation can cause a phenomenon called inattention blindness. The National Safety Council states that drivers using hands-free cell phones may fail to see up to 50% of their driving environment. That is, you won't see the complete scene in front of you even though your eyes are looking at it. An intense phone conversation uses up too much brain capacity, which means there's too little left for processing visual input from the eyes.
Cognitive distraction includes other activities such as daydreaming, focused thoughts on non-driving matters, intense emotions, route finding, and listening too intently to music or audio files.
Driving in a distracted state endangers yourself, your passengers, and the motorists sharing the road with you. If another's distracted driving caused personal injury to yourself or a loved one, the lawyers at Odegaard Braukmann Law can help you get the fair compensation you deserve. To learn more, please contact us.