Distracted Driving: Actions and Consequences

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Updated June 29, 2020 | Auto Accidents |


When we first learn how to drive, we’re told to always keep our eyes on the road and to watch what other people are doing. As we get more comfortable behind the wheel after years of practice, however, our priorities and attention shift. We think we can get away with a text message or looking down for just a moment to adjust the air conditioner.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Anything you do behind the wheel of a car that takes your mind or eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel is considered distracted driving. Keep in mind that any one of those distractions can be considered distracted driving.

Did you know it takes three seconds to fully shift your attention back to your primary task after a distraction? It might not seem like much, but when you’re traveling at high speeds or need to anticipate what others are doing on the road, those seconds are everything.

Distracted Driving Examples

Any of these activities can count as distracted driving:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Reaching for or interacting with something in the car—an electronic device, a cigarette, or an animal, for instance
  • Talking to other passengers in the car
  • Using headphones to listen to music, podcasts, books, or other media
  • Being distracted by something outside of the car, such as nature or an accident
  • Adjusting your GPS
  • Personal grooming (such as applying makeup, brushing your hair, or flossing)
  • Changing the controls on the radio, air conditioner, or other settings in the car
  • Setting or resetting a navigation system
  • Being mentally or emotionally distracted by a stressful job, your home life, etc.
  • Using your cell phone for any reason—talking, texting, taking pictures, accessing the Internet, navigating, reading, watching videos, or listening to music

If it takes your mind off the road, it could be considered distracted driving.

The Consequences of Distracted Driving

Drivers are concerned about behaviors that make them feel unsafe on the road, and distracted driving is one of those issues. When your eyes are off of the road and your attention is somewhere other than on what you’re doing in the car, you’re more likely to get into an accident. You can’t see where you’re going or what other people are doing and react to it in time while you’re distracted.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, the consequences of distracted driving are far-reaching:  almost 3,000 people were killed by distracted driving in 2018, and about 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.

Cell phones play a big part in distracted driving crashes, too. In 2017, an estimated 2.9% of drivers used handheld cell phones in 2017. When you consider that it takes an average of five seconds to read or respond to a text message, which is enough time to travel the length of a football field (at 55 mph), it’s no wonder the risk of distracted driving accidents is so high.

How to Prevent Distracted Driving

There are so many dangers on the road already. Why add distracted driving to the list?

You, your passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians rely on you to be fully engaged in driving while you’re on the road in order to protect their lives. A few seconds can mean can change someone’s life forever, and you can prevent it by staying diligent.

Looking at the road is your most important job as a driver. Wait until it’s safe to pull over to do whatever else you need to.

Contact an Automobile Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a car accident, you are urged to contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An Indianapolis car accident lawyer from WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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