March 20, 2023
Auto Accident

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.

What Is Distracted Driving?

The CDC’s transportation safety portal highlights three forms of distractions when driving: manual, cognitive, and visual distractions.

  • Manual distraction. Manual distraction is an activity that takes your hands off the wheel, reducing your ability to drive effectively.
  • Visual distraction. Visual distractions are elements or behaviors that remove your visual attention from the road and your surroundings, leading to a decreased ability to see and react to traffic.
  • Cognitive distraction. Cognitive distraction detracts your mental focus from driving and noticing your surroundings, making it more difficult to control your vehicle or react in a dangerous situation.

What Causes Distracted Driving?

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.

Texting and Driving

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.

Using a Navigation System

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.

Eating While Driving

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.

Applying Makeup

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.

Changing the Radio

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.

Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving

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:

  • Turn off and put away your phone and avoid using it while driving.
  • Plan and organize your driving route to minimize navigation assistance.
  • Never eat or drink while driving.
  • Do not use in-car entertainment systems, such as radios and televisions, unless they are hands-free.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep your eyes on the road at all times.
  • Pull over and park in a safe place if you must use your phone, put on makeup, or eat a quick snack.

The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers Are On Your Side

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.

Related Articles

May 20, 2024
Auto Accident
Summer is approaching, and with it, warmer weather and more opportunities for trips across Alabama. More people will be on the road enjoying a vacation or a nice summer day out. However, higher traffic also means a higher risk of accidents, making safety and awareness critical this time of year. Summer holidays are an especially […]
View Article
May 6, 2024
Auto Accident
Alabama recognized the importance of ridesharing in 2018 with the signing of the Ridesharing Law, which legalized ridesharing all across the state. However, as the popularity of ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft increases, the risk of fraud and fake drivers has also become an issue. In 2019, a fake Uber driver in Tuscaloosa was […]
View Article
April 22, 2024
Auto Accident
It can be costly when you’re hurt in a car accident in Alabama. In 2022, the average hospital stay in the state cost $1,899 per day, which means just a few days can set you back thousands of dollars. Factor in other expenses, like property damage to your car and lost wages, and one collision […]
View Article
The Vance Law Firm