Distracted driving can be anything that keeps a driver’s focus away from the road. However, there are a few common distractions that you could come across during your holiday road trip that cause thousands of accidents each year:
Distraction #1: Cell Phones
Cell phones are especially dangerous to use while driving because they distract a person visually, physically and cognitively. Not only do you have to take your eyes away from the road and your hands off the wheel to send a text, but you also have to be cognitively aware of the conversation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it takes an average of five seconds to send or read a text. A lot can happen within five seconds. In Texas, it is illegal to read, write or send electronic messages while driving. However, the law does not cover other forms of cell phone distractions such as talking on the phone, using an internet browser, navigation or hands-free texting. Some Texas cities have their own cell phone laws, but Houston does not. Even so, cell phones are a triple-threat distraction and should not be used while driving.
Distraction #2: Navigation System
Last year, the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated that more than 107 million Americans traveled at least 50 miles during the holiday season. If you are visiting family or friends that you have not seen in a while, it is likely that you will need a refresher on how to get there.
Route your trip before you leave. It could prevent you from becoming lost and having to mess with a navigation system. If you do need directions, designate a passenger to find them. Trying to punch an address into a navigation system or your phone could cause an accident. If you are driving alone, find a safe place to pull over to search for directions.
Distraction #3: Passengers
Passengers are a distraction too. Conversations can keep your attention away from the road, impairing your focus and causing you to react slower to a situation. This does not mean you cannot join in on the conversation. However, put yours and your passengers’ safety first and stay focused on driving.
In addition, looking at your passengers or turning your back to the steering wheel for a second are forms of distraction. If you have children in the car, it could be beneficial to plan ahead and bring books or toys to keep them occupied.
Distraction #4: Daydreaming
It is easy to get lost in your thoughts during a long road trip. Around the holidays, especially, we all have a lot on our minds. Whatever you have weighing on your mind, try to push it aside until you have reached your destination. Getting lost in your thoughts, or daydreaming, is a cognitive distraction that could have catastrophic consequences.
Distraction #5: Eating and Drinking
Eating and drinking while driving are very common actions. However, they do not get enough attention as forms of distracted driving. When you eat while driving, it is easy to become focused on avoiding a spill or getting food on your shirt rather than focusing on the road. Your eyes, hands and attention become focused on the task of eating.
If you are hungry or thirsty, pull over and take a break. It will give you and your passengers a chance to stretch and it will allow you to relax for a few minutes before refocusing on the road.
Need a Houston Car Accident Attorney?
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Distracted driving is a form of negligence and you could have a viable claim to recover compensation for injuries or damages.
The Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC represents victims of car accidents in Houston. Call us at (832) 460-5181 or fill out our online case evaluation form to schedule a free consultation about your situation.