There are so many ways for drivers to become distracted that it has become a serious public health threat. Consider all the possibilities…talking, texting, eating, passenger interaction, adjusting controls on the vehicle and children that draw attention within the car. It is no wonder distracted drivers are more likely to become involved in crashes.
While many believe hands-free devices and dashboard infotainment systems are safe because they are provided by vehicle manufacturers, research shows these technologies lead to cognitive distraction and inattention blindness. What does this mean?
Cognitive distraction and inattention blindness are something most of us have experienced, but likely did not know it. This is when you are doing something with your mind, such as talking on a cell phone, and you “see” what is in front of you…yet your cognitive distraction causes you not to “see” objects that may cause an upcoming hazard and allow you to respond to unexpected situations. It is estimated that fifty percent of what a driver sees actually processes in their brains while on a cell phone. This is called inattention blindness, similar to that of tunnel vision.
For these and other reasons, distraction has joined alcohol and speeding as a major cause of fatal and injury crashes. For people who believe hands-free devices are a solution to the risks of driver distraction (because they help eliminate two obvious risks – visual, looking away from the road and manual, removing your hands off of the steering wheel.), think again. This third type of distraction takes your mind off the road, and therefore increases chance of risks.
Who is the most vulnerable to distracted driving? The age group most prone to driver distractions is 16 to 24-year-olds. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that teen girls are twice as likely as teen boys to use their cell phone or other electronic devices while driving. Unfortunately, most people (teens especially) who think they are capable of multi-tasking do not understand the brain’s ability to adapt to switching from listening/talking to watching the road and reacting. Even the smallest amount of time spent switching can lead to significant risks from delayed reaction and braking time.
For example, a vehicle traveling 40 mph goes 120 feet before being able to completely stop. This equals eight car lengths. Just a fraction of a second can mean the difference between reacting immediately and in time to avoid an accident. Trying to multi-task means a driver cannot always be prepared to deal with the unexpected.
It has been tested and proven that drivers narrow their field of vision and attention when engaged in a cell phone conversation. They are more likely going to miss exits, road signs, seeing pedestrians and may arrive at a destination and not remember the details of how they got there. This is because their brains can go on “auto” in order to stay in a lane and do other trained maneuvers, but if something happens…the inability to shift mentally to the hazard is lessened.
Don’t wait. Contact Friedman and Martin, LLP at 912-232-8500. https://www.savinjurylaw.com