Texting is not the only distraction behind the wheel

Distracted drivers do more than just text while driving.

When we think of "distracted driving," we often envision a driver sending or reading a text message. Texting while driving is very dangerous. It causes thousands of accidents each year, and the North Carolina legislature saw fit to make it illegal in response.

Did you know that in the few moments it takes to send or read an incoming text, a vehicle can travel the length of a football field at highway speeds? If the driver is looking down at his or her phone, then that entire distance goes by while blinded to traffic, road conditions, weather, hazards and more.

Texting is a particularly invasive type of distraction. It involves three distinct levels of distraction: cognitive (the primary focus of the driver's mind shifts from driving to the conversation at hand), manual (the driver takes a hand off the wheel to type in the message) and visual (the driver's eyes leave the road ahead to look down at the phone screen).

Texting is not the only possible distraction out there, though, and it's not the only one that results in distracted driving accidents each day on our state's roads.

Low-tech distractions

People have been driving distracted since they've been driving. Even back in the days before cellphones, there were distractions tempting drivers to split their focus. Such low-tech - but still dangerous - distractions include:

  • Eating or drinking behind the wheel
  • Having lively conversations with passengers
  • Reading a map or looking at paper directions
  • Changing clothes
  • Daydreaming
  • Personal grooming like brushing hair or teeth, or putting on makeup
  • Reading billboards or signs alongside the road

Higher-tech distractions

There are plenty of distractions in the modern age that don't involve texting. These include:

  • Talking on a handheld or hands-free cellphone
  • Adjusting the radio, CD player or mp3 player
  • Typing an address into a GPS device or the car's internal navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Reading or replying to email
  • Using social networking/media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or others
  • Playing an interactive game like Pokémon Go
  • Surfing the internet
  • Adjusting the climate controls

If you're injured

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that eight people die each day and more than 1,000 suffer injury in distracted driving-related crashes. If you are hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you have legal rights. Reach out to an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney at the Raleigh-based Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 919-899-9852 or 877-320-1851, or by contacting the firm online.