Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Criminal Defense, Worker’s Compensation, And Employment Law
In Baltimore, Maryland

People need to broaden their definition of distracted driving

The average driver will readily admit that distracted driving is dangerous. Yet, quite a few people have an unreasonably restrictive definition of distracted driving. Since the rise of smartphones as an everyday part of life, the phrase distracted driving has become synonymous with texting at the wheel. There is very little question that the use of a mobile device while driving is a dangerous form of distraction that contributes to thousands of preventable collisions and fatalities every year.

However, people may set themselves up for very unsafe circumstances by believing that they have avoided distracted driving simply because they don’t reach for their phone at the wheel. What actually constitutes distracted driving?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of distracted driving includes dozens of different activities, not just the manual use of a phone or other smart technology while driving. The CDC breaks distraction down into three different categories.

Manual distraction is any activity that takes someone’s hand off of the wheel, such as reaching for a cup of coffee or trying to grab something out of a briefcase in the backseat. Visual distraction occurs when someone takes their eyes off of the road, possibly to make eye contact with a passenger or gawk at a crash nearby. Finally, cognitive or mental distraction involves thinking about something else, such as preparing for the work day ahead or daydreaming about the weekend.

Activities ranging from eating and grooming oneself to singing along with the radio are dangerous distractions that increase someone’s reaction time and therefore the likelihood that they will cause a major collision. People need to avoid using their phones while driving to ensure their safety, but also need to avoid other activities, as there is no safe way to multi-task while driving.

Drivers who recognize how important maintaining their focus actually is will have an easier time identifying and avoiding potentially distracting activities while at the wheel. They may also have an easier time identifying scenarios in which someone else is to blame for a crash because they drove while distracted.