Distracted driving goes beyond texting

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Motor vehicle accidents |

When people hear of distracted driving, the first thing that likely comes to mind is texting while driving. However, distractions encompass a broad spectrum of activities.

Understanding the different ways we can become distracted while driving is the first step toward prevention. 

The ripple effect of distracted driving

Distracted driving includes any activity that diverts a person’s attention from driving. In 2022, distractions contributed to 5,200 crashes in Connecticut. Texting is considered the most hazardous form of distraction, and the state prohibits using hand-held devices while driving. Anyone who violates this law will receive a $200 fine for the first offense, $375 for the second and $625 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Still, there are other types of distractions to be aware of.

Visual distractions draw the driver’s eyes away from the road. Besides smartphones, this category includes actions like adjusting the GPS, looking at billboards or even glancing at other passengers. 

Manual distractions involve taking one’s hands off the steering wheel. This could be changing the radio station, eating, drinking, or searching for items in the car. These actions compromise the driver’s ability to control the vehicle and respond swiftly to sudden road situations.

Cognitive distractions divert the driver’s mental focus away from the task of driving. Engaging in conversations with passengers, daydreaming or even being preoccupied with personal issues can significantly impair driving performance.

A momentary lapse in attention can lead to accidents that have a ripple effect across all aspects of a person’s life. In addition to the immediate physical injuries of everyone involved in the crash, there can also be emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, if the injuries are severe enough, they can prevent a person from working, leading to significant economic burdens. Anyone who has been injured by a distracted driver may be able to receive financial compensation to replace lost wages and cover medical expenses.