Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving was responsible for over 3,100 deaths in 2020 nationwide. At the state level, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) reported 57 distracted driving fatalities in 2020.
Understanding what constitutes distracted driving and its common causes in Alabama is essential to your safety and others on the road.
The CDC’s transportation safety portal highlights three forms of distractions when driving: manual, cognitive, and visual distractions.
There are several causes of distracted driving among motorists in the U.S. The most common forms of distracted driving are associated with technology usage, such as mobile phones and GPS systems. However, physical activities, such as eating and putting on makeup, also distract drivers on the road.
According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash. The study noted that, on average, a texting driver takes their eyes off the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, texting while driving is equivalent to driving 371 feet with your eyes closed, or just over the length of a football field.
Alabama law (AL Code 32-5A-350) prohibits drivers from using wireless telecommunication devices to write, send, or read text-based messages while operating a motor vehicle. Violation of this law can result in fines of $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second offense, and $75 for any subsequent offenses. Repeat offenders may also face increased fines, penalties, and a potential license suspension.
While GPS systems can help you get to your destination quickly without getting lost, they can also be a distraction on the road. Using, adjusting, or programming your navigation system removes your attention from traffic in front of you, potentially leading to a collision.
For example, looking at the GPS’s screen directions instead of the road or searching for locations while driving takes your eyes off the road. Alternatively, reacting to GPS directions too late can cause you to swerve or make a sudden lane change, endangering yourself and other drivers and passengers.
According to the NHTSA, eating while driving increases your likelihood of crashing by up to 1.57 times. This is because eating requires the use of your hands, and it takes your mental attention away from the road. Unfortunately, around 52.5% of drivers admit to eating while driving in a 2021 survey, making this behavior a common distracted driving danger for drivers.
The NHTSA reports that applying makeup can increase your odds of crashing by 3.13 times; however, around 6.5% of drivers admit they regularly apply makeup while behind the wheel. To prevent an accident, never attempt to apply mascara, eyeshadow, or lipstick or perform other hygiene-related activities, like brushing your teeth, while behind the wheel.
Using your hands to change the radio dial in the car can cause you to miss important visual cues, such as stop signs, traffic lights, and other vehicles, increasing the risk of a collision. Using your phone to select digital music or podcast episodes also poses the same type of distracted driving risk.
To prevent distracted driving and increase your chances of winning compensation if you’re involved in a crash with another driver, take the following actions:
If you were injured in a car accident by a distracted driver, our Alabama auto accident attorneys have the resources, experience, and tenacity to fight on your behalf for compensation. We will help you collect evidence, prove the at-fault party’s liability, and get you a fair settlement for your damages. Contact us today for a free case review.