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What Not to Do Behind the Wheel

On average, eight people perish in the United States every day because of distracted drivers. Distracted driving occurs each time a driver engages in an activity that diverts their attention away from driving. Consuming food or beverages, talking to people in the vehicle or adjusting the stereo or navigation system are all examples of behaviors that lead to driver distraction.

Distracted driving can be divided into three main categories:

  • Visual — Taking your eyes off the road and turning to look at a passenger such as a child in the backseat, glancing away in search of a lost or dropped object or looking downward at a phone
  • Manual — Taking your hands off the wheel, reaching for a beverage or a snack, adjusting the radio volume or temperature or programming a navigation system
  • Cognitive — Talking to passengers, driving while highly emotional or panicked, driving when fatigued or otherwise allowing your thoughts to stray from the focus of driving

One of the most common causes of driver distraction is the use of cell phones. It is also one of the most dangerous distractions because it frequently involves visual, manual and cognitive distractions simultaneously.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compares the level of danger associated with texting while driving 55 mph to that of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Due to the dangers associated with cellphone use while driving, Texas has enacted laws restricting how and when drivers may use cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. Some examples of these restrictions include prohibiting individuals under the age of eighteen from using a wireless device while driving and making it illegal for a driver to use a non-hands-free device to read, write or send a text when a car is in motion.

In general, any activity that affects your ability to focus on the road in front of you should be avoided at all costs, whether it’s a manual, cognitive or visual distraction or something that affects all three. If you need to reprogram your navigation system, take a phone call or answer an urgent text, it is always safer to find a place to pull over and complete that activity while parked.

Leland Reinhard Law Firm helps clients throughout Johnson, Hill, Somervell, and Hood counties who have been injured in accidents where a driver was distracted behind the wheel. Call 817-645-5400 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation at my Cleburne office.