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Safe Driving the Focus of Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Male hands at the wheel of a car and using the phone, texting and driving.

Every April, National Distracted Driving Awareness Month shines a spotlight on the critical need for safer driving habits. With distracted driving accidents claiming far too many lives each year, it's essential to recognize the dangers posed by any activity that takes focus away from the road.

In California, the statistics speak volumes. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there was a 27.3% surge in distracted driving-related fatalities in 2021 alone, resulting in 140 tragic deaths. Cell phones remain the primary culprit, tempting drivers to engage in texting, photography, emailing, or app usage while behind the wheel.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts your attention from the road, whether it's taking your eyes off the road, using your hands for something other than driving, or letting your mind wander.

Visual distractions

When drivers take their eyes off the road, such as looking at a phone or adjusting the radio, they can be involved in accidents. This can occur because the driver may fail to see hazards, pedestrians, or other vehicles in their path, increasing the risk of collisions.

Manual distractions

These are actions that take the driver's hands off the steering wheel, like texting or reaching for objects in the car. When drivers engage in manual distractions, they lose control of the vehicle, making it difficult to respond quickly to changing road conditions or emergencies, thereby increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Cognitive distractions

These happen when a driver's mind wanders away from the task of driving, which can happen during phone conversations or daydreaming. Cognitive distractions can impair a driver's ability to concentrate on the road and make quick decisions, leading to delayed reactions and potentially causing accidents.

Texting while driving is the ultimate distraction

While all forms of distraction increase the risk of accidents on the road, texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it encompasses all three forms of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. Looking down at your phone to read or send a text while driving at 55 mph is like driving blindfolded for the length of an entire football field.

According to a 2023 OTS Public Opinion Survey, a staggering 74.2% of Californians cited distracted driving, particularly texting or talking on the phone, as their foremost concern for road safety. Various measures have been taken to address this issue, including public education campaigns, outreach initiatives targeting teen drivers, and enhanced enforcement of California's hands-free cell phone law.

Tips to avoid distracted driving

Here are some effective tips to help you avoid distracted driving and stay safe on the road:

  • Put your phone away: Keep your phone out of reach and out of sight while driving to resist the temptation to check notifications or make calls.
  • Plan ahead: Set up your GPS, adjust mirrors and climate controls, and handle any other tasks before you start driving to minimize distractions.
  • Utilize driving apps: Consider using apps that help minimize distractions by silencing notifications and blocking incoming calls while you're behind the wheel.
  • Secure loose items: Ensure all loose items, including phones, bags, and other belongings, are properly secured to prevent them from rolling around and causing distractions.
  • Avoid multitasking: Focus solely on driving and avoid engaging in activities like eating, drinking, grooming, or adjusting the radio while on the road.
  • Speak up: If you're a passenger and notice the driver becoming distracted, politely remind them to focus on the road and offer to assist with tasks like navigation.

Holding negligent drivers accountable

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Bay Area crash involving a distracted driver, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses.

At Clancy & Diaz, LLP, we handle every aspect of the legal process so our clients can focus on recovery without the stress of dealing with insurance companies. Our goal is to see your case through to a successful outcome, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options. We have offices in Walnut Creek, Antioch, Pittsburg, and Benicia, California.

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