Pluralist - Distracted Driving And The Law

Distracted Driving And The Law

Have you ever considered what the law says about distracted driving?

First of all, we need to define the term.

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

It is an expansive definition, and I know it immediately renders me guilty of some forbidden actions.

Let’s break it down and learn a bit more about distracted driving.

How Prevalent is Distracted Driving in the USA?

The NHTSA, which heads up efforts to reduce distracted driving, reports that distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,142 lives in 2020.

Their website states that:

“Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed ……

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.”

Which Are The Most Popular Distractions?

There are many distractions, but guess which one is the most dangerous and prolific?

Yes, you guessed it, using your cell phone whilst driving.

Cell Phone Calls And Texting

Individuals who drive while sending or reading text messages are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers.

Car accidents caused by texting can land drivers in significant legal difficulties if involved in a car accident.

This makes sense – think about how long your eyes are not focused on the road when texting on a phone while driving. Yes – way, way, way too long.

The National Safety Council (NSC) in the USA estimates that crashes from cell phone use account for 27% of all auto accidents. So it seems like it’s not too smart to use your smartphone whilst driving. It borders on dumber than dumber and dumber. Just don’t do it.

Lost In Thought

Being lost in thought is a major cause of accidents and involves the driver’s mind wandering long enough to lead to a collision.

Insurance research has shown that this distraction could have accounted for nearly 62% of driving fatalities in the UK between 2010 and 2011.

Driving long distances contributes to this distraction,  especially when insufficient breaks lead to extreme driver fatigue.

Other Occupants

Having other occupants in your car is a significant distraction for the driver.

Although this is not illegal, you should be aware that your engagement with them reduces your ability to focus solely on the road and the business of safe driving.

Adjusting Controls Such As Audio, Climate And Navigation Devices

Another major cause of distracted driving rears its head here.

Try to adjust control before you set off driving and not once you are in motion.

Eating or Drinking

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United Kingdom found that drivers who eat or drink from an open container while driving increase near-miss crashes or crashes by nearly 39%.

Try to refrain from drinking or driving while you are behind the wheel. You will be all the safer for doing so.

In Conclusion

Most of us have been guilty of driving distracted at some point in time, some more than others!

A realistic assessment of the consequences of this seemingly innocuous oversight is enough to sober up the senses.

We should all make every effort to avoid driving distracted.

Our lives depend on it.

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