We all know the dangers of texting and driving, yet more and more American drivers are failing to take them seriously. In fact, a recent AAA study revealed that distracted driving is now the number one danger on American roadways, followed by aggressive driving, and drunk/drugged driving. Many experts blame it on our “productivity culture,” saying the pressure to respond to texts, emails and calls right now is making us more distracted, and less safe.
To reduce this rapidly-growing threat to public safety, we need more than just billboards and ad campaigns. Drivers must understand what happens—to their brains—when they drive while distracted. Taking your eyes off the road to glance at a text impacts more than just your line of vision. Reading that text is a visual distraction, yes, but it can also be a cognitive distraction. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
Categories of Distraction
There are three main types of distraction: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual and visual are fairly straightforward—you take your hands off the wheel to adjust the stereo, or you take your eyes off the road to read a text. But there’s a third kind of distraction, and this one gets a bit more complicated. When a driver takes his/her attention off the task at hand—driving—he/she may experience inattention blindness, which is the inability to perceive critical driving cues due to cognitive distraction (a.k.a. “zoning out”).
Although inattention blindness can occur at any time, it’s more common following a manual or visual distraction. As a result, even after you’ve read that text and returned your eyes to the road, your mind may be too distracted to notice that the car ahead of you is braking, or that an animal is about to run into the road.
What About Fatigue?
And zoning out doesn’t only occur when a driver is texting or taking his/her hands off the wheel. Fatigue is another leading cause of distraction because it also contributes to inattention blindness. Combined with other distractions, such as reading a text or taking a sip of coffee to stay awake, fatigued driving is particularly dangerous. A MA car accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
Distracted Driving Statistics
The consequences of distracted driving are often devastating. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in distracted driving-related motor vehicle accidents. Considering that during the day, more than 480,000 people are estimated to be using cell phones while behind the wheel, these statistics aren’t particularly surprising.
And distracted driving doesn’t only involve cell phones. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes, hands, or mind off the task of driving is considered to be a distraction. This includes everything from adjusting the stereo or navigation system, to eating, drinking, or applying make-up. Continue reading