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Distracted Driving: A Growing Concern on Our Roads

Man using his smartphone while driving a car. The icons of social media, email, Wi-Fi, and chat indicate distracted driving.

California Motorists: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

As technology continues to advance, the number of distractions behind the wheel has only increased, leading to a deadly epidemic on our roads. In one recent year, over 3,000 lives were lost to distracted driving.

Texting while driving may be the most well-known form of distracted driving, but it is far from the only one. Conversations on cellphones or with passengers, adjusting in-car technology, self-grooming, and even simply drinking a cup of coffee can all take a driver's focus away from the road, putting themselves and others in danger of a car accident.

In recognition of this growing problem, April has been designated "Distracted Driving Awareness Month," a nationwide effort to raise awareness and educate the public on the dangers of driving while distracted. With simple steps such as putting away your phone while driving and remaining attentive, we can all help make our roads safer.

Understanding the different types of distraction

There are four types of distractions that can occur while driving, all of which can lead to a serious or fatal crash:

1. Visual distractions - anything that takes your eyes off the road:

  • Looking at a map or GPS system
  • Reading a text message or email
  • Looking at a billboard or roadside attraction
  • Gazing at the scenery or other cars

2. Auditory distractions - any sound that affects your ability to hear and takes your attention away from driving:

  • Loud music or radio programs
  • Listening to podcasts or audiobooks
  • Conversations with passengers
  • Hearing the sound of a notification on your phone

3. Manual distractions - anything that requires you to take your hands off the wheel:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Smoking or vaping
  • Adjusting the radio or air conditioning
  • Reaching for an object in the car
  • Self-grooming (e.g., putting on makeup, combing hair, brushing teeth)

4. Cognitive distractions - anything that takes your mind off of driving:

  • Daydreaming or mind wandering
  • Arguing or having an emotional conversation with someone
  • Thinking about personal problems or work-related issues
  • Stress or fatigue

It's worth noting that texting and driving is considered arguably the most dangerous form of distracted driving because it involves three types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. When a driver texts while driving, they are taking their eyes off the road, using their hands to type, and shifting their mental focus away from the task of driving. This can lead to delayed reaction times, decreased situational awareness, and impaired decision-making abilities.

Promoting safe driving

As Distracted Driving Awareness Month begins, it is an opportune time to reflect on the responsibilities of operating a motor vehicle.

Here are some tips for responsible driving:

  • If you need to look at your phone, park or pull over in a safe location before doing so. Never text and drive. If it's not worth stopping your car, then it can wait until the end of the drive.
  • If you must respond to a call or message, consider appointing a passenger as your "designated texter." Let them handle your phone for you.
  • Avoid scrolling through apps or social media while driving. The temptation to use your phone can be strong, but it's not worth putting yourself and others in danger.
  • If you find it difficult to resist the urge to use your phone while driving, try putting your device in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

By following these simple tips, we can all help make our roads safer.

The consequences of distracted driving

In 2021, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) issued over 55,800 citations for distracted driving. As such, during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, you may see increased law enforcement on the roadways as part of the national paid media campaign "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." This campaign reminds drivers of the dangers and the legal consequences – including fines – of texting behind the wheel.

Under California law, drivers are prohibited from talking or texting on their cell phones unless they are connected to a hands-free device or the driver is in an emergency situation and needs to use the phone to call law enforcement, an ambulance, or another emergency services agency.

Crash victims may be eligible for compensation

The aftermath of a car accident can be a devastating experience, particularly when another driver's negligence caused the accident. If you or a loved one were hit by a distracted driver in the Bay Area, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses—and we know how to help. To learn more about your potential legal options, contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our offices are in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and Pittsburg, California.

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