Driving requires lots of focus and your full attention. Distracted driving affects all drivers from time to time and can come with stiff consequences. Unfocused driving does not affect all drivers the same. Some take more risks and pay less attention to road increasing their risk for disaster. Fully understanding what is at stake and how small distractions can affect your ability to drive could prevent a serious accident.
Causes of Distracted Driving
Anything can distract a driver. It is common for people to try and multitask while driving. It can range from obvious distractions such as crying or fighting kids in the back seat to eating lunch behind the wheel. Any task which takes your attention away from the road is considered a distraction. Even if your eyes are focused on the road while eating or drinking, shifting your food from hand to hand, looking down when you spill, or burning yourself on a hot cup of coffee could all take your attention away from the road just long enough to cause an accident.
Examples of Driving Distractions
- Playing with the radio
- Cell phones, talking and texting
- Driving under the influence
- Playing with a GPS
Really the list of driving distracted examples could go on and on. Some people even take it as far as shaving or applying makeup while driving. While it is impossible to outlaw all distracted driving, many states have created laws against the biggest offenders such as cell phone usage and driving under the influence.
Consequences of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be extremely dangerous and result in horrific accidents. The severity can range from minor vehicle damage all the way up to a totaled car and devastating injuries or possibly even fatalities. Each state has its own set of laws when it comes to distracted driving.
It is important to verify what the penalties in your state are so you can educate young drivers and be more aware yourself.
Cell Phone Usage: Banning cell phone usage is a newer law which has come about because of the high level of distraction from the devices and the number of people using them. Some states ban all usage while others ban more specifically texting. Texting bans are now enforced in 39 states and it is expected to expand to all 50 states. Many experts compare using a cell phone while driving to drinking and driving due to the high level of distraction and the amount of time the driver’s eyes are off the road. If you are caught using a cell phone in a way which is banned, you could potentially be pulled over and ticketed by a police officer. Fines vary and insurance carriers will likely see the violation and add a surcharge to your car insurance policy at your next policy renewal.
Driving While Under the Influence: The use of mind-altering substances such as alcohol, drugs, and even prescription medication is a form of distracted driving. These substances make it difficult to focus your attention on the road and even worse, alcohol makes you lose your inhibition. Drunk driving laws are severe in most states and include large fines and often driver’s license suspension.
Again the law varies from state to state.
Car insurance will also be expensive and difficult to obtain once cited for driving under the influence. Your current car insurance carrier could potentially non-renew your car insurance policy. Car insurance carriers will classify you as a high-risk driver and charge much higher rates. It often takes five years to get back into good driver standings once a DUI is on your driving record.
People frequently drive distracted without any consequences. It seems to be a part of our everyday lives. It is the lack of awareness and the commonality of it which makes it so dangerous. Most people think it will never happen to them, until one day it does. It only takes a split second of distraction to create a lifetime of pain and suffering. Remember driving is a privilege and your decisions do not only affect you but other people on the road too.