The Dangers of Distracted Driving
April 18, 2018
Keep Your Eyes/Hands/Mind on the Road: the Dangers of Distracted Driving
We live in a plugged-in society. We keep our cell phones within close reach and often take our laptops to bed. With so many work and family commitments, multi-tasking has become the norm. This practice is generally discouraged by mental health professionals, and when a driver decides to multi-task behind the wheel, the result can be costly and often tragic.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Michigan State Police are encouraging drivers to keep their eyes, hands, and minds on the road by ramping up efforts to stop people from using cell phones and other distracted driving practices.
Types of Distracted Driving
Police will be on the lookout for drivers exhibiting the three main types of distraction:
- Visual – taking one’s eyes off the road
- Manual – taking one’s hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – taking one’s mind off the task of driving
While the main example of distracted driving is the use of a cell phone, there are other equally dangerous activities. These include:
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Adjusting the radio
- Programming a navigation system
- Attending to children or other passengers.
- Personal grooming, such as shaving or applying make-up
Anything that takes a driver’s eyes, hands, and/or mind off the road is fair game.
Distracted Driving and the Law
According to Michigan law, it is illegal for drivers to read, manually type or send text messages while driving. A first offense results in a $100 fine, which doubles to $200 for subsequent offenses. No points are assessed on a driving record unless an accident or crime occurs in conjunction with the violation.
Level 1 and 2 license holders under the Graduated Driver Licensing program are prohibited from using a cell phone under any circumstances while driving.
Here are some statistics about the dangers of distracted driving:
A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that texting and visual-manual tasks increase the odds of crash involvement by 83 percent.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9.2% of all fatal crashes in the U.S. involved distracted driving in 2016.
The Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC) reported that in 2016, 12,788 crashes in Michigan involved distracted driving. Cell phones were involved in 15% of these accidents.
“These statistics remind us how dangerous it is to perform other tasks while driving,” said Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “Taking your mind off the road for even a moment can result in a tragedy.”
The Distracted Mind
What happens when you take your hands, eyes or mind off the road to read a text, change the radio station or unwrap a sandwich? Research shows that the brain remains distracted for 27 seconds after performing any of these activities, leaving plenty of time for an accident to happen. For those who think hands-free technology does not pose a risk, think again. Studies show that texting using voice commands is no safer than manual texting.
Increase your awareness with a free 45-minute Distracted Driving Online Course from the National Safety Council, available through April 21. Visit www.safetyserve.com/ddam.
“Even careful drivers can have auto accidents,” says Bernstein. “If you or a loved one are injured in a crash, contact us as soon as possible. Our experienced auto accident lawyers will evaluate your case and help you get the compensation you and your family deserve.”
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free consultation.