Year after year, reports consistently show that distracted driving is among the most common causes of car crashes. With this, distraction has become as lethal as drunk driving and speeding.
A distraction is practically anything that gets the driver’s attention off their main task of driving. It can be a thing that is already a part of or conventionally associated with the vehicle such as the seat belts, the radio and everything that we commonly see in a car. It can also be items that we brought in the vehicle such as phones, children, food and many other items.
In this article, we further classify these distractions according to the impairment - no matter how fleeting - that they cause the driver. It’s important that we as fellow drivers or pedestrians know this, especially if we are unwittingly hurt by someone who drove while distracted. While the crash was not intentional, the consequences are real, both physically and legally. You might need the help of a competent lawyer from reputable firms to get through the harrowing experience and ensure a fair settlement.
Driving has become mundane, but it is actually a complex task that draws upon several competencies. A driver has to have good vision so that they can see what’s in front of them (or back of them through the rearview mirror) quite clearly. They also need presence of mind, so that they can make quick decisions should there be a need for them. Finally, they need to have the ability to coordinate their movements of steering the wheel and stepping on the gas.
A distraction, therefore, is anything that meddles with one or more of those three competencies. The most common perhaps are visual distractions. These are items or even people that take the driver’s eyes off the road. They might be mesmerized by the person sitting behind or next to them. A dog might have performed some weird antics on the side of the road. A phone placed on the dashboard may have suddenly lit up.
It may sound funny, but a driver must be in the here and now when they are driving. They should not let their minds wander somewhere else. Their focus must be on the road and the signs that they see there.
Many drivers who get involved in messy car crashes are distracted by their own thoughts. Maybe they got in a fight with their partner or they are stressed about work. Maybe someone at home is causing them trouble. Maybe they just lost their job and they are on the edge, thinking about what to do next with their lives.
If our thoughts are tightly wrapped around something or someone that is in the past or somewhere else, it’s better to relax first and refrain from driving or doing anything at all.
Anything that causes the driver’s hands to let go of the steering wheel is a manual description, even if it’s just to get something nearby or feel the hand of the person next to them. If there really is some issue that needs to be tackled with their hands, then it’s best to just pull over.
The three classes of distractions are not mutually exclusive. This means that a single activity can cause two forms or even all three forms of distractions at once. Texting is a good example. It takes the hand off the steering wheel, the eyes off the road, and the mind off the task of driving.