Recently, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study of the most common distractions that are likely to occur while driving and distract the driver’s attention, thereby possibly leading to a car accident. Participants in the study performed a number of tasks in three different settings: (1) while not driving; (2) while driving in a simulator; and (3) while actually driving. The results of the study, beginning with the least distracting and progressing up to the most distracting, were not at all surprising to our Marietta auto accident lawyer. Here are the six most common driving distractions we see all the time.
Listening to the Radio
Typically, a driver will select a present station, adjust the volume, and then begin driving. Listening to the radio, even when humming or singing along, was minimally distracting and not a significant risk.
Listening to a Book on Tape
Similar to listening to the radio, driving while listening to a book on tape was found to be minimally distracting, and not a significant risk.
Talking with Passengers
You see it every day. Interestingly, the drivers in the study were not allowed to turn their heads while talking, nor use hand gestures to emphasize a point. Despite these restrictions, the study found that talking while driving presented a moderate risk of distraction.
Cellphones (hand held)
Despite statistics showing talking on a cell phone while driving is one of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities, it remains one of the most common activities we do while driving. As a result, more than 10 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning the use of a cellphone while behind the wheel. Talking on a cellphone while driving constitutes a moderate risk.
Have you ever driven next to someone and watched as they carry on a conversation with no one else in the car? If so, chances are they are using either a hand-free cellphone or a hand-held cellphone on speaker. Does not physically holding the cellphone make a difference is the level of distraction? The answer is a surprising “no.” The Highway Loss Data Institute showed virtually no difference in the level of distraction between using a hand-held or hands-free cellphone. Bottom line, using a cell phone of any type while driving presents a moderate risk of distraction.
One step above using a hands-free cellphone is speech-to-text devices. Using a STT device to send an email or text, post to social media, or a host of other similar functions is inherently dangerous and presents the greatest risk of distraction. Not only do you have to take attention away from driving and focus on what you are saying, but the quick glance at the screen to verify what you said was actually transcribed is a perfect recipe for an accident.
The bottom line is that the least distracting activity while driving is simply to drive. The next time you are tempted to perform one of the activities identified above, please ask yourself if that conversation, email, text, update, etc., is worth dying for, or possibly injuring or killing someone else.
If you or a loved one has been hurt as a result of an accident caused by a distracted driver, the Marietta-based law firm of Morrison & Hughes can help. Your initial consultation is free, and you will pay no legal fees unless we obtain compensation for you. Call 404-800-LAWS (5297) now to arrange for your free consultation or contact us online.