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What Are The Actions That Cause Distracted Driving Collisions?

Many car drivers today tend to underestimate the risks involved in operating a vehicle while they are distracted. According to the CDC figures, in 2019 as many as 3,100 fatalities and about 424,000 injuries occurred in crashes involving distracted motorists in the US. Accidents caused by distracted drivers can leave you with severe injuries that last a lifetime. If you or your loved one are involved in a collision caused due to a distracted driver, reach out to our accident attorneys for a free case evaluation.

At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP, we develop customized legal strategies to help you get back on track after your injuries. We are dedicated to helping victims, and their families overcome the devastating consequences of a negligent auto accident and will aggressively pursue your case to help you receive your rightful compensation. Call us at 1-866-496-1943 or simply fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

Types of Distracted Driving in New York City

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Distracted driving is a dangerous combination of being distracted and driving. There are three primary types of distracted driving:

  1. Visual distraction: Looking at something other than the road while you drive. This could be looking at other vehicles or pedestrians, billboards, cell phones, or any other object that diverts your attention away from the road. 
  2. Manual distraction: Taking your hands off the wheel to do something other than steering the car. This could be eating food, changing gears, adjusting the heater, or taking your hands off the wheel for more than 5 seconds. 
  3. Cognitive distraction: Thinking about something other than what you’re doing while you drive, like thinking about what you have to do later in the day or planning out what you’re going to eat for dinner. Your mind can be as much of a hazard as your hands or eyes.

Let’s look at different kinds of distractions in detail:

Daydreaming

It’s easy to zone out when you’re driving. Long commutes seem to drag on forever. Even though you’re looking at the road ahead, your mind begins to wander. Thoughts of making plans for next weekend during a commute to work or school, reflecting on a recent event or bad moment, or imagining future scenarios such as what you’ll have for lunch tomorrow or what you’ll do when your kids come home from school can divert your mind from driving. Because these thoughts are not focused on actually driving, the mind slows down, and reaction time is longer to avoid the collision. 

Using Social Media while Driving

Driving while using apps like TikTok and Instagram has become increasingly common in the last couple of years. This is both hazardous and unnecessary. If you’re driving and using social media to post photos or videos, you’re not just being a bad driver, you’re being irresponsible. 

It can distract you from fully paying attention to the road and increase the risk of a crash or an accident. You not only risk your own life but also endanger the lives of pedestrians and bicyclists on the road. It is wiser to wait a few hours and post from a safer location.

Texting or Using Cell Phone while Driving

Cell phones are the leading cause of distracted driving due to their accessibility and addicting nature. It becomes easy for drivers to multi-task, check email and texts, open new websites and apps, and start using their GPS navigation before arriving at their destination. 

Teen drivers are twice as likely to get into car accidents when using a cell phone. New York State law prohibits using a hand-held cell phone or portable electronic device while driving a vehicle. It is illegal to text or talk on the phone, watch videos, or play games, leading to a traffic ticket and fines.

Eating or Drinking while Driving

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A drive-thru fast food is an everyday guilty pleasure for many people. It’s convenient and inexpensive but not the safest treat to indulge in while driving. Eating or drinking while driving can cause deadly crashes, especially if you are on the highway. If there is traffic ahead, you will have to react quickly. 

If you’re holding food in one hand and the steering wheel with another, you might fail to pull the brakes on time or change the gear to stop. Enjoy your food before continuing on the road. If you are going on a long trip, and cannot stop, try eating at a rest stop or picnic area. It is better to be late than being in an accident because of eating while behind the wheel. 

Fiddle with Car Controls

Even if you’re a good driver or simply drive defensively, many distractions can occur while you’re on the road. You might need gloves, want to change the radio station, turn on the AC, or pull out your phone to enjoy a song on the radio. When you don’t have your hands on the wheel, your mind isn’t focused on driving, you’re less aware of your surroundings and may miss a change, such as a slowing car ahead. Even if it’s a seemingly minor distraction, it could take your eyes off the road, resulting in an accident.

Self-Grooming

Though many people are in a rush to get to work in the morning, driving is no time for applying lipstick or grooming. Even reaching down to adjust your clothing upsets the balance of a vehicle and increases your chances of having an accident because you are not focused on driving. 

Self-grooming activities while driving could be more distracting than you may realize. For example, if you put on lip gloss while driving and another driver cuts you off, your car may swerve into oncoming traffic, causing a collision. You should resist the urge to fix your hair, put on makeup, change your clothes, or apply deodorant while driving.

Speaking to Passengers

A significant source of distraction is the passengers in your car. When you are riding with someone, like a friend, it can be natural to want to talk to them while en route. This makes sense when they tell you the directions or otherwise fill your car ride with conversation. 

If you need to speak, ensure that you are not too forceful with your conversations or otherwise asking questions that could distract you from driving safely. Be careful to focus on the road when trying to chat with your passengers. If you do not drive with due care, you could end up in an accident that is incredibly dangerous for yourself and others.

Ways to Avoid Distractions while Driving

When on the road, the traffic around you is constantly changing — some vehicles are slowing down, some are speeding up, and others may be merging into your lane. If you’re distracted, you could easily fall prey to an accident. Here’s how you can avoid distraction behind the wheel:

Make a Plan

An excellent way to avoid distractions is to plan ahead. If you know where you’re going and where you’ll stop, it’s easier to resist temptation when your phone rings or an ad catches your eye. Before leaving, look up directions online or use Google Maps. With directions set, you’ll be less likely to pull out your phone while driving. You don’t want to be looking at your phone if the car in front of you brakes suddenly.

Strategically Place Your Phone

You might look forward to checking your phone for messages when you stop at a red light, but this still presents a distraction risk. Put your phone somewhere out of reach to prevent temptation, such as in the glove compartment or the trunk. This way, when the urge strikes to check it while waiting in traffic, you won’t be able to do so easily.

Turn Off Notifications

You don’t need to be told every time someone likes your Instagram post or when it’s your turn in Words with Friends. It’s tempting to check your phone for these alerts, but set reminders for yourself if you need something to look forward to.

Schedule Breaks into Your Trip

If you have a long trip ahead of you, take regular breaks to rest up and get some fresh air. This will help keep fatigue at bay while also allowing you to stretch your legs and enjoy some time away from the car.

Consult with Experienced Distracted Driving Attorneys in New York

If you have been involved in a car accident resulting from a distracted driver, you may be able to hold them accountable for your medical expenses and other damages. After an accident of this kind, your legal rights and options are complex and should be discussed with an experienced New York automobile accident attorney at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP.

We understand that getting involved in car accidents can have devastating consequences. We have successfully represented numerous clients who suffered serious injuries or fatalities due to the negligence of others. Our dedicated injury attorneys are here to help you answer all your questions and will do everything to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. We are happy to provide you with a free case evaluation. Give us a call at 1-866-496-1943 or write to us online.