The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently reported that 64% of those who responded to their poll feel that distracted driving has developed into a larger concern than it was only three years ago. Distracted driving is often associated exclusively with driver usage of their mobile devices. This report showed that 14% of drivers have found themselves distracted by things other than their phone.
The End Distracted Driving (EndDD) campaign was recently launched to increase education and awareness about this problem. The program focuses on three forms, which include manual, visual, and cognitive types of distractions.
In-Car Information and Entertainment Systems
A recent study conducted by David Strayer at the University of Utah researched the potential dangers of “in-vehicle information systems” or “infotainment” features that are increasingly installed in today's newer vehicles. He tested approximately 30 types of 2017 model vehicles. He concluded that these systems consume too much of the driver's attention. Many drivers are under the false assumption that these systems, which are often safety-related, are not distracting.
Three Categories of Distractions
At any given time during the daytime hours, over 600,000 drivers are using a phone or some other electronic type of device. Manual distractions are those that cause the driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Some examples include eating, drinking, using GPS navigation systems, grooming, and many other activities.
The brain is generally only able to process a certain level of data at a time. When tending to other things while driving we are essentially beginning to test these limits. Cognitive distractions can be difficult to precisely measure. The driver basically is putting themselves in a position where several tasks are competing for their focus and attention.
A visual distraction causes a driver to shift their eyes away from the road ahead. Operating a vehicle while visually distracted may be the equivalent to closing our eyes while driving. Those traveling at 55 miles per hour and sending a text message will roughly travel 100 yards without their eyes on the road.
The Addictive Nature of Phone/Device Usage
David Greenfield, from the University of Connecticut's School of Medicine, founded a Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. Greenfield feels that the best course of action is to turn off phones and mobile devices when driving. He believes that the use of smartphones may be habit-forming.
In addition, Greenfield explains that newer vehicles are often equipped with a host of other distracting electronics. He encourages drivers to voluntarily make the decision not to drive while distracted and largely attributes the problem to the “addictive nature” of mobile devices.
Was the Driver Distracted at the Time of an Accident?
Following a vehicle accident, the local authorities typically respond and conduct a brief investigation. A driver who was involved will likely be reluctant to mention that they were using their phone or otherwise distracted at the time. Those who incur injuries may consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney may be able to compel a driver to produce phone records and other information that may serve as evidence of distraction.