What Are the Biggest Distractions to Drivers?

Driving Distractions - Baltimore car accident lawyers

Distracted driving is among the leading causes of car wrecks across the United States. Although younger drivers tend to be most involved in distracted driving accidents, no age group is immune. Distracted driving can be defined as anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off driving. If any of these situations occur for even a split second, an accident can quickly happen. Unfortunately, you do not have control over how other people drive, so defensive driving is always a good idea. You do have control over how you drive. Being aware of distractions is an excellent first step in avoiding accidents. Following are the top driving distractions.

Top Driving Distractions

Cell phones. Cell phones are one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents, especially among teens and young adults. The National Safety Council estimates that 26 percent of all car wrecks involve cell phones.

Although most states, including Maryland, have laws against cell phone use while driving, it still happens with alarming frequency. Any engagement with a cell phone while driving is dangerous: talking, texting, reading texts, sending emails, watching videos, taking pictures, or following a navigation system.

The best advice is to put the phone away or on airplane mode while driving. If absolutely needed, sync it to your car’s Bluetooth system and use it hands-free, sparingly. If required for navigation, use the speaker to hear the directions and mount the phone on the dash near the steering wheel. Do not hold it to follow directions. Glancing down is enough time for an accident.

GPS/navigation systems. GPS systems are a great advantage while on the road if used safely. Always program the system before you set out on your trip or have a passenger do it for you. Do not try to enter addresses while driving. Likewise, use the GPS speaker to get the directions out loud. Glancing up and down is a distraction. Mount the GPS in a location that does not require you to take your eyes off the road.

If you do not use a navigation system, know that maps and printed directions can also be distracting. Have a passenger serve as navigator or pull over to a safe location to review directions. Glancing up and down increases the chances of an accident.

Passengers. In some circumstances, passengers can be a huge distraction. Younger drivers, especially, may be prone to rowdy, loud, or horseplaying passengers. Children in the car, especially babies and toddlers, can also be distracting if they begin crying or need help.

Even a deep conversation with another passenger can cause distraction. The point is that passengers who are causing distraction need to be taken care of, whether by soothing a fussy baby or telling rowdy friends to stop their distracting behavior.

Pets. Most dogs love to go for a ride with their humans. Unfortunately, pets that roam freely in the vehicle can be immensely distracting. They may try to get near you for petting or end up near your feet, the brakes, and the gas pedal. Large pets can obscure your view of the road.

The safest way to travel with pets, for you and them, is to keep the pet in a crate or in a harness that works similar to a seat belt.

Autopilot syndrome. Many people take the same route every day, to and from their destination. They believe they can do it in their sleep. When a route gets too familiar, it can cause a driver not to be vigilant about potential dangers or distractions. Similarly, on a long road trip, the endless highway may make some drivers feel like they are on autopilot. These situations render a driver unable to react quickly when needed.

Radio/video volume. Most likely, everyone has turned up the volume when a favorite song comes on. But the reality is that loud music, or videos for the children, can be quite distracting. The music itself can take your mind off driving, but loud volumes will also muffle the sound of sirens and other signals you need to hear while driving.

Fiddling with controls. Your car has many buttons, knobs, and other controls for climate control, infotainment, and other settings. Try to set them before your leave for a trip or while stopped at a light. Looking down or reaching over to fiddle with a control can be a dangerous distraction.

Reaching for something. Some drivers may need something on the floor beside them, the back seat, or the glove compartment. They may think it is safe to reach for these items while driving. It is not. The best thing to do is pull into the nearest parking lot or side street so you can stop the car and retrieve the object safely.

Food and drink. Eating on the go is not uncommon, but it is unsafe. Reaching for that drink, looking for that French fry in the bag, spilling ketchup on your shirt, all are particularly distracting behaviors. Eating and drinking should happen while you are stationary. Pull over to a parking lot or wait until you get to the office or home to eat.

Grooming. Unfortunately, people have caused accidents or been cited for grooming while driving. These distracting and unsafe behaviors include shaving, applying makeup, combing hair, and even brushing teeth. People running late for work or an appointment may think it is okay to get ready while driving. It is not.

Reading. Reading books, magazines, and other materials while driving is obviously distracting and unsafe. But it happens. People may be preparing for a work meeting or simply really engrossed in a novel. Whatever the reason, reading and driving do not mix.

Changing clothes. Again, substituting your car for your home is just not safe. Maybe you are going from work to a party or from school to football practice. Whatever the reason for a clothing change, do it while you are not moving down the road. If you must change in the car, stop your vehicle at the very least.

Glare. At certain times of the year, the sun hits especially strongly during the morning or afternoon commutes. Other times, your direction of travel may put you in blinding sunlight. Glare is a real problem, especially when looking at stoplights or other signals. Glare can also make you unaware of how close another car or object is. The best way to not be distracted by glare is to keep sunglasses in the car year-round and use the car’s sun visors.

Weather conditions. Pounding rain can make driving treacherous. Drivers may be more focused on trying to see the road than actually driving carefully. Fog, snow, and sleet can also be distracting and reduce a driver’s visibility. Sometimes even windshield wipers and headlights will not help. When that happens, it is often best to pull over and wait for the weather to pass if possible.

Road conditions. Driving on icy or snowy roads is highly distracting. A driver may become overly tense or may focus on keeping control of the car rather than driving carefully. Much like weather conditions, if road conditions are distracting and unnerving, pull over or stop for the night to wait for conditions to become better.

Billboards and roadside attractions. There are often interesting things to see on a drive, but when they become distracting, they become dangerous. Rubbernecking at an accident scene has also been known to cause other accidents. It is tempting to see what you can see while driving, but the best place for your eyes is on the road ahead.

What if a Distracted Driver Caused My Accident?

If you have recently been involved in a car accident that you suspect was caused by a distracted driver, you should, of course, report it to the police and seek medical care. Then, it might be beneficial to consult with a lawyer before signing anything or agreeing to anything with the other driver’s insurance company. The reason is that insurance companies are not in the business of making sure you are reimbursed for all your losses. They are in the business of minimizing their own losses, which means less money paid out to those who deserve it.

A lawyer can analyze your situation and provide options for you to consider. At the very least, they can value your claim and negotiate for a fair and just settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurer. If negotiations fail, they can take your claim to court.

Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for the Rights of Accident Victims

Vehicle accidents can cause physical and financial problems for the victim. The Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have helped hundreds of victims get the compensation for which they are entitled after an accident. We are ready to get to work for you today. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Baltimore, we represent clients throughout Maryland.

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